Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sea Trust Stena Dolphin Day! a trip of two halves...

So our Sea Trust Stena Dolphin Day was (as they say) a game of two halves...
We usually wait for a good weather window for our surveys, but when you plan one of these events its a matter of naming a date, praying to Neptune/Poseidon, or any other of the panoply of interested immortals such as Micheal Fish, that there will be no hurricanes or biblical deluges.
As it happened, the forecast was so so, but seemed doable as the day approached.
Laura and Rens did an epic job of organisation and this afternoon 30 odd Sea Trust volunteers and supporters, new and old, met up on the Stena Europe.

As we left Fishguard my heart sank as Strumble was almost obscured by fog. The wind was whipping up white horses and It looked unpromising... and so it turned out to be. Although thankfully the sun broke through before we arrived in Rosslare, having drawn a blank-... Of course everyone was quite polite and kind...

Stena people are amazing! We were booked in quickly and efficiently, welcomed on the Bridge by Ships Master Richard, and working with Laura, OBS had arranged for us to have our quiz in the Truckers and then food to follow.
The quiz devised by Rens and Laura was a roaring success and everyone had a great laugh. Literally the tide had changed! As we set off from Rosslare the wind seemed to have turned down a few notches and with the sun behind us visibility improved.
A big animal was spotted making big splashes , a Risso's started the score although not everybody saw them, Thankfully officer of the watch Sean, allowed us all up on the bridge wing and so, when the common Dolphins came leaping into the bow, most of us saw them. Another lot came in soon after, and then a really brilliant pod approached from our port side, giving cracking views!

Truly, it was a game of two halves Sea Trust, Stena and Dolphins won! nobody lost and as we parted after disembarking, everyone had a big smile on their faces. Which in the end, is what Team Sea Trust is all about !

So how do we interperate what we see....

So in a recent blog I showed some of my images of dolphins off the breakwater apparently having a good time breaching and interacting or at least that was our take on it!
We have been watching them for the past few years and collecting images but this one from Laura is possibly telling us something about them. There has often seemed to be a certain wariness between some animals and others. Apache and Ringo a mother and well grown calf  have been regulars in this time and they have shown a marked reluctance to integrate with other animals that have visited Fishguard Bay. It would certainly be fair to say that of the dolphins that have visited here they do not, all just get together into a cohesive pod.
The two images here first Laura's and then mine seem to be of a larger dolphin possibly attacking a smaller animal. It may just be play but I have read about violent interactions between adults and juveniles. It will be worth trying to film some of these interactions to try and clarify just what is going on...

Some great images from Stephen John from Limeslade the Gower!

I do not know if it is of any interest to you  (you bet it is Stephen!)  but after countless years of keeping my eyes peeled whilst out cycling and walking around Gower, I finally sighted two or maybe 3 porpoises off Limeslade on Monday 19th June. They hung around for about 2 hours and looks like they were hunting fish. 

I was up on the promenade watching when below me just off the rocks a seal popped up. Not a rare sight around here but as ever very curious of human activity and there was a group of local lads on the rocks below with 2 of them swimming and oblivious to the seal. 

The swimmers decided to swim out further and that is when they were surprised by the seal who popped up quite close to them. I managed to get a decent photo of one of the swimmers and the seal but it was very difficult to get any decent shots of the porpoises.
The following day I decided to cycle down to Limeslade again and this time took position higher up on the opposite side of Limeslade. I did not think I would be lucky again but to my surprise I was. This time only the 1 porpoise and again it hung around fishing for between 1 and 2 hours.
Stephen John
( Swansea)

Love the narrative and images Stephen. Brilliant one of the boy and the seal! 
Feel free to send us any more you get, and we will put them up to share with our Whales in Wales audience,

Another incredible few days with Team Sea Trust...

We had young Dan Thomas from Carmarthen with us getting some work experience last week. Apart from a ferry survey with Laura and Rens, he accompanied tours and helped with maintenance in our Ocean Lab "Sea Mor" aquarium, he got out to see our incredible marine wildlife On Friday, his last day, He lucked in big time with us on the breakwater as seven or so Bottles put on a show! Apparently Jon Scone and partner Maria also spotted the dolphins from the coast path! Thanks for letting us know Jon!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Stena Survey, my bit.

I have to agree with Cliff it was a cracking weekend and for me the highlight was the survey trip. It was my first and no doubt not the last. In good company we set off and straight away we were onto the bottlenose outside the breakwater as they rushed toward the ship. The outward trip was interspersed with several porp sightings and further out pods of Common Dolphins and a Minke or two. We had a lovely few minutes as a large pod of commons passed tusker Rock on the way into port.

 A short rest and a meal and it was back at it. We left Rosslare at just about six o'clock and with the sun behind us still high in the sky expectations were high. Firstly it was more porpoise and as we left Tusker Rock behind a fab sighting of a Minke Whale just ahead. Sadly not enough time to get the lens on it though.  Just about half way and I spotted a pod of Commons at a distance and coming our way. Thankfully they kept their course and gave a wonderful opportunity for some photos. As we approached Strumble the sightings dropped off with just a few porpoise recorded. Entering the bay the Bottlenose were still about and we watched as they played around seemingly not bothered by our approach.

Although a cetacean survey it was hard not to be captivated by the wonderful Manx Sheerwaters reflecting off a still sea and as you can imagine my camera was in overdrive. If you would like to see the bird images please take a look at my flickr pages here.

An amazing weekend with Team Sea Trust!...

It started on Saturday Night with a Barbie Doll (Barbecue with Dolphins... with, not of  Dolphins !!!)

And then a last minute Ferry Survey on Sunday where we recorded Four species: Bottlenose Dolphin on both Fishguard and Rosslare harbours, also Harbour Porpoises, Common Dolphins, (pictured) as well as Minke Whales. Sadly no Risso's which is a bit odd.
Many thanks to all our amazing Stena friends both on the ship and on the shore! Also, Laura and Rens for their welcome on our return!

More from Ken to follow!

Bottles and BBQ

Saturday evening was shaping up to be the best of the summer so far weather wise and seemed a good time to see if the Bottles would be off the breakwater. So with the porp hound and my wife at my side I set off for an hours watching off the breakwater. No sign at first and then just as I was considering leaving I spotted them moving in toward Pen Anglas. We waited a while and they made their way across to the breakwater's end. Shortly afterward team Sea Trust arrived with BBQ in tow and set up for an evenings watching in good company. What better way to spend an hour or two with good food, good company and several bottles putting on a show in front of you.