Sunday, 25 January 2015

From Hannah far, far, away!

Hello both,
So, yesterday I went out on a trip with the Auckland whale and dolphin safari in the Hauraki Gulf... After getting in touch with them a couple of weeks ago they kindly offered to take me out so I could have a chat to them about what they do and see it first hand. They're a lovely bunch and doing some great work - link to their Facebook page please if you're putting this on ours!
We saw at least 7 Bryde's whales (pronounced Brewders - I thought it was like brides, but there we are!) including a mother and very inquisitive calf. It reminded me of our Minke encounter on the Wildcat a couple of summer's ago. Pretty special. I don't think the photos do it justice; I'm no Rich Crossen, but I am hoping that one of the girls on the boat will send me some of hers through. Unfortunately didn't see any other cetaceans (not that I'm complaining, was a pretty good trip!) but they usually expect to see bottles, commons and occasionally orca. Tonnes of birds - white fronted terns, Australasian gannets, storm petrels and fluttering shearwaters in big rafts as well as plenty of gulls and shagarants.. They have loads of other shearwater and petrel species around too, as well as the occasional albatross!
4.5 hour marine mammal eco-safari in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park - right on Auckland's doorstep.
Tourist attraction: 4,118 like this.
All their research gets sent in to the Department of Conservation who are the primary organisation overseeing everything conservation related here. They also send out a message via VHF through the coastguard to all vessels in the Gulf if they come across cetacean activity. This is mainly targeted at large container ships which have caused too many whale deaths in recent years. I thought that was a brilliant move. As well as the research for DOC, they had some girls on from Massey university who are doing photo ID of common dolphins in the Gulf. So far they have 2083 individuals on their catalogue!! Rather them than me trying to match up photos...! They think there's likely to be at least 4000 animals in the area though. Interesting to see that they are using photo ID for commons. Also while I was talking to them, a couple of them (American girls) thought Sea Trust sounded familiar... Turns out they've seen our stuff on MARMAN, probably WOW courses, so that's obviously a powerful tool, you can tell Powell! Oh, and there were a couple of guys who run a company called The Media Clinic out filming using a drone - it was really really cool! They showed me a bit of footage they'd taken and edited from last time they were out and it was just AMAZING! I'll have to get you a link and send it through. The drone gets such a different perspective, and also worked well for us as we could follow it to show us where the whale was! I told them if they're ever anywhere near Wales they'd have to come out with us, one of them is dying to see a sunfish - wish I'd had that video of the skimming one last year to hand!
I'm hoping I'll get to head out with them again sometime, but not sure how much longer i'm in Auckland for. 
Hope everything's good back there, looks like you've been keeping busy! Great turnout for the supporters meeting, gave me goosebumps! 
Big hello to everyone at OLab!
Lots of love,

Dead Dolphin?

Just back from day out at west angle, pembs.
Saw what looked like a dolphin washed up on the high tide mark . Looked like it had been there a while but thought I should report it


Hi Steve,  

Rod Penrose of Marine Mammal Strandings is the best one to deal with strandings They are on our Links page

 e-mail: or telephone 01239 682405 but happy to pass this on, allthingsgood, cliff

Update  hi Steve I spoke to Rod, Rod was aware of this one a Common Dolphin  and two others In South Pemb's one of which was taken for post-mortem initially it was thought  to be by-catch eg. caught by fishing boats then discarded but apparently the examination was inconclusive. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

From Nick MacIlvenna; Risso's recaptured.

Nicks report 
Thursday 22 January

Six sunny hours spent on St David's Head today and only two porpoise seen,and then in the last hour of the ebbing tide NW of us, nine Risso' s spotted heading SW at a good pace 3000 m offshore. Good to see those guys again. A few tail slaps and splashes but mainly travelling fast in a long line.

Nick Mc.

Risso's recaptured! It looks like Nick caught up with our Risso's a couple of hours after the girls saw them from the ferry. Risso's often travel in loose spread out groups. Cristina thinks that they might have seen another group in the distance but when they got closer their attention was taken by the splashy gang.... Thanks for the heads up Nick nice work!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Strumble Diary: Plenty of Porp's

The first really decent day of the year for porp watching at Strumble turned up the goods! On my first visit today to watch our team coming back on the Stena Europe I had several brief sighting but did not manage a pic'. Maybe I should have stayed but that's a different story....

Either way I came back to the Ocean Lab, met the girls (Barbara Cristina and Carrie our ferry survey team)  and they told me about the Risso's I had missed just after leaving Strumble!

So Cristina and the walrus went back to Strumble and although we did not find the Risso's, we spent a happy hour watching at least twenty porpoises feeding just beyond the lighthouse. They were all pretty distant but thanks to our amazing Canon SX50 HS with its 50 x optical zoom, fantastic steady shot and fast multiple exposure I actually got a couple of shots to prove it!

 The Risso's sighting today seems to confirm that they have been resident in the area as a species for more than a year, with confirmed sightings in every month since July 2013. Risso's have been regular visitors during the warmer months and recorded since the 1970's from Strumble but sightings in every month of the year as per the last 12 months +  is pretty exceptional.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

More on Clet from Fisherman. Jonathan Voyce..

More on Clet...
Jonathan Voyce
14 January 11:00
Hi sea trust
I commercially fish around Ramsey island ,we had the same Dolphin with us for 4hrs on the 6th of January 2015
The notch out of fin is very recognisable,there was a smaller Dolphin there too,it only showed twice,
I have some video and pictures ..

I am hoping Jono can share these with us, its getting really interesting!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Strumble diary January 13th 2015 more on Clette/Clet

A quick look at Strumble this afternoon, still pretty stormy but we caught a couple of glimpses of porp's in amongst the churning tide-race, Sadly no pic's or video..
More on Clette from Dave Cuniffe...
Hi Cliff,
Clet certainly does get around; I did a Penzance to St Mary's on the Scillies, survey last Easter and he was very active in the harbour there. He seemed to like being amongst the small boats, but word was that he was quite aggressive towards swimmers.
All the best
Dave C

(it seems when Clette/Clet was first noticed in France , being small, the fishermen thought she was a female, (he is in fact a young male) and called it Colette which has since been abbreviated.) 

Clette/Clet update...

Clet update, he story so far...

(it seems when Clette/Clet was first noticed in France , being small, the fishermen thought she was a female and called her Colette which has since been abbreviated.) 

A solitary Bottlenose Dolphin Known as Clette /Clet, visited Fishguard Harbour on the fourth of February last year.We filmed and photographed him (its a young male) and posted it on our Whales in Wales blog. Subsequently other dolphin groups latched onto the post and it turned out that it had previously been seen in France between 2008-10 then hung around the south coast of England until we saw it last February here in Fishguard. He then turned up in Penzance again but did not hang about as it was next seen in Baltimore  s Ireland . it moved on to Galway  where it displayed some aggressive behavior and then disappeared. He then turned up at the Isle of  Mull off the Western Scotland in December 2014 
We were returning on the Stena Europe completing one of our ferry surveys on December 29th when the deckhands on the Stena Europe spotted a dolphin bow riding. we missed it as we had left the bridge on entering the harbour. Soon after local fisherman Titch and Gethin Rees were transferring to land from their fishing boat in a small dingy when a dolphin started following them and bumping into the boat. Titch got in touch with us afterwards and identified the dolphin as Clette/Clet from our photo's.
Last night I was telephoned by a local lady reporting that a dolphin with a split fin was chasing the boats around in Milford Haven, It looks like Clette is alive and well in the haven, we will be trying to get more info on him apparently there is some video which I am trying to track down at the moment! We will try and get a boat out to see him when the weather calms down a bit.

allthingsgood, cliff

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Bottlenose Dolphin in Fishguard Harbour today.
Did Clette come back to see us ??? on Tuesday 11th February last year a sub adult Bottlenose Dolphin arrived in Fishguard Harbour . It had an exceptionally recognizable split dorsal fin and was subsequently identified as Clette a solitary dolphin that had been hanging around Penzance and later moved on from us to Baltimore in Ireland, 
Local Fisherman Titch Rees just came in to report a strange dolphin banging into his dinghy as he made his way from his fishing boat to shore on Monday. He described it as not full grown with a split fin. The same day  a dolphin bow-rode the Stena Europe into Fishguard harbour and was reported to us by the Quay wall gang who tie up the ship. I showed Titch a picture of Clette which he positively identified as being the dolphin that was banging his boat. Given the strange behaviour I am pretty sure Titch was right, wonder where Clette is now?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Porpoises and Risso's from Nick!

Nick McIlvenna 

18:54 (16 hours ago)
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>    Plenty of gulls offshore and a few groups of Porpoise and ten Rissos dolphin came around the West of Ramsey Island and put on a good show while travelling North towards Strumble Head passing us on St David's Head. Plenty of breaching,tail slapping and blowing in what was a tight group of  mixed ages leisurely covering about 6 km in 45 minutes with the tide.


Monday, 29 December 2014

Our last Stena Europe ferry survey of 2014 and a pretty chilly one! Yesterday we had a few porpoise sightings before the sun went down in spectacular fashion. Ireen and Alicia came along with Ireen's boyfriend Peter. Aaron Davies completed our team. 

This morning looked good as we left Rosslare harbour but we had a series of really frustrating distant splashes we found impossible to resolve. Ireen did establish one pod of about a dozen dolphins probably commons but difficult to be sure in silhouette  As usual Strumble gave us a couple more porp's but even more frustrating apparently a dolphin bow rode the ship into harbour and was only seen by the quay wall gang as we berthed. None the less we managed a December Survey in good conditions by the skin of our teeth with ten sightings to add to the count!

There did not seem to be any porpoises attracted by whatever all these gulls and auks were feeding on off Strumble but it was a pretty impressive sight.