Saturday, 16 June 2018

Gower Common Dolphins

On Wednesday I went on a small boat survey with the Gower Marine Mammal Project from Swansea Marina. We were lucky to catch the last of the high pressure system but the forecast was for deteriorating conditions during the day. It was decided to head offshore as quickly as possible so any poor weather would be behind us coming home. We got to Worms Head in good time and in sea state 1 conditions,
before turning to port and heading out in the general direction of Lundy. We had a few porpoise but then started picking up common dolphins. We had pod after pod varying in number from 2 or 3 to 20 or 30. Rob kept the records and I am not aware of the total yet. We were surprised by how few gannet were in the area, but we did have 4 or 5 storm petrels. As with Cliff's trip on the Cartelett Lady we stopped to try a little fishing very unsuccessfully. We got a good 9 1/2 hours in before the weather and fatigue sent us back to Swansea Marina.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Bottle Fest

A stroke of luck this morning as the road to Strumble was closed for re-surfacing. Only one thing for it and after reporting the closure to the team it was off to the breakwater in hopes of a sighting. The wind was blowing strongly across the bay so I didn't hold out much hope really.  Well, on the breakwater end the wind was an issue for the camera but the bottlenose dolphins were there. Three of them were milling around on the lookout for passing fish. I informed Holly and she, Sarah and the Thursday volunteer gang joined me a few minutes later. We lost them for a while but I spotted them just off Pebbly Beach so it was off to the other end of the breakwater to watch them some more and so glad we did as they put on a bit of a show with some fine breaches. After a while they headed back to the mouth of the harbour and we duly followed only to find another pair were now there too so we had five animals moving in all directions which was a bit of a headach for getting pics but to be honest it's just nice to see them there. We hoped they would bow ride the departing ferry but not this time so with loads of images and big smiles we made our way off the breakwater and back to the lab.

I'll leave it to Cliff to decide if some of these shots are of our old friend Appache with ?(Ringo) but it sure looked like it to me.

Whats happening to the Ramsey Porpoise ?

Ramsey Porpoise


Andrew Crowder

16:09 (12 minutes ago)
to me

Andrew Crowder

14 Jun 2018, 16:09
to me
I’ve been on the island for the last fortnight with only one sighting of a single porpoise. 
The local boats have also been noticing their absence. 
However, today 1 porpoise off the north west point and 5-6 just south of the sound, feeding and surfing the swell.

 Thanks for letting us know  Andrew, as we have had unusually high numbers of porpoises in the area just south of Milford on our recent small boat surveys and also very high numbers from the ferry right across from Fishguard to Rosslare!
On the other hand Holly and her porp fin team visited the sound on Monday and drew a blank!
Just why they should seem to have deserted Ramsey sound albeit (hopefully) temporarily  is a bit of a mystery. According to the experts it is the height of their breeding season and so this might have something to do with it. Perhaps they have been out looking for mates or a holiday in Ireland? seriously though it would be good to have a better connection with Greg and Lisa with regards to the porpoises! I must make the effort to pop over there some time!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Strumble Diary 13/06/2018

Quite a testing session this morning with a fast flowing ebb tide and flat light on the water it was difficult to see the porps in the choppy race. Those I could see were moving very fast and not showing well at all. Lots of dash and splash with a fin tip here and there all I could see most of the time. Thankfully a few did slow down a bit and showed enough for these seven shots to provide a record of the session. I'd estimate around thirty animals passed through most rounding Mackerel Point with several dropping back to the west as the tide eased off.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Stena Europe and the BIG five

I have long suspected that Welsh porpoise and Irish porpoise cross the Irish Sea because while sightings are routine close to the coast on both sides occasionally we get porpoise strung out all the way over. Yesterday was such a day. We had 32 separate sightings of porpoise totalling 76 individual animals. With the porpoise fin ID project progressing so well I am sure in the years to come we will get animals from the Sea Trust data base confirmed in Irish waters. It will need more skilled photographers than me!! What a day!! I think we trumped Cliff's 1000+ common dolphins. Nick Barbara and I started in trepidation of another foggy day but while the visibility was never very good it was good enough. Shortly after leaving the harbour we had porps quickly followed by 4 bottlenose dolphins. The porps kept coming all the way over until near the Tusker Rock we had a glimpse of a large cetacean but could only record a 'probable' Minke whale. The resident Rosslare bottlenose dolphin was nowhere to be seen although it had been present that morning. There were 5 black guillemots in the Harbour which is a good count because we were concerned that numbers were not recovering since the storm a couple of winters ago. We chilled out on the deck at the stern, keeping out of the way as the crew ushered off the passengers and prepared for those bound for Wales. A quick bite to eat in the Metropolitan Bar and Grill and back to the Bridge. The first sighting of the return was 4 Rissos dolphin (3 adult and a juvenile) dead ahead and close. We had to reassure the Captain that they did dive and he had not run them down. Plenty more porps and then we had good but brief views of a Minke whale in roughly the same position as the probable a couple of hours earlier. After more porps Barbara spotted a lone common dolphin and a couple of miles on another. While single common dolphins are unusual we later learned that Cliff had them all down his way!! Lots more porps finished a superb day.
Big thanks to Captain Richard Davis all his crew and shore staff!

A thousand dolphins! no fish!

So a last minute call from Andy, "taking my brother Steve, and his new Wife and friends out, do you want to join us? Like as if I wouldn't!!... so another trip out in what was perfect conditions!
We got off to a great start with a pic, of Karen Riggs of Valero who was working on one of the tankers we passed! Karen nominated us for a £100 donation from Valero so nice to see her at work!

The main objective was a little bit of fishing but they were useless! so we decided to go look for the experts....

and saw about a thousand of them! They just kept coming,

And coming,

And coming!

No wonder we weren't catching any fish!!

Thanks Andy and Brian for another great day on the Cartlett Lady!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

What a lot of porps from Stena Europe... Perfect five!

In Rosslare having completed one leg of the survey. 20 sightings 49 porps 4 bottlenose and a probable minke...

I met up with a beaming Team Sea Trust (Steve Rosser, Barbara Davies and Nick McIlvena) as they came off the Ferry having completed the return leg. They had confirmed the Minke in the same area they had seen one on the outward trip and also added Risso's and Common Dolphin completing the  "Big Five" (archive pic's) although not all in Pembrokeshire waters!

Common Dolphin.

Bottlenose Dolphin.

Minke Whale.



More from Steve to follow!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

At Last!

Although there have been several sightings of Bottlenose Dolphins around Fishguard Harbour since mid May I have failed to connect, until this afternoon. I was sat in the car on the breakwater staring out to sea when i noticed some splashing about a mile out. Eventually they got into range a mother and calf pair The younger animal looking awfully like Ringo but I did not get a good enough pic' of mum..

The other animal which followed them in was very splashy with some scratches on the dorsal fin..

The mother and calf went out to mid channel of the entrance and seemed to be deep diving. The third animal came by much closer in a kind of surging mode as if in a rush to catch up, but missed the mother and calf pair, continuing into the harbour and heading towards the quayside before turning, and making his way back to the entrance. The mother and calf then started to make their way out with the third animal following at a respectful distance. When I last saw them they were heading North  west out beyond Crin Coed Point.

Its not easy getting a handle on their behaviour. It seems that they are aware of each other but there seems to be some kind of barrier keeping them at least a couple of hundred metres apart. I can hardly believe that the pair may be Apache and Ringo, surely after four or five years, Ringo would be independent by now. The calf never seems to get any bigger, Unfortunately I would have needed to get a decent shot of the right hand side of its dorsal. Unfortunately the light was not so good today and they came past at a distance. Oh well  at least I managed a few shots from my first encounter of the summer. Hopefully its just the beginning of another fascinating summer of Bottlenose sightings in the harbour mouth!