Friday, 22 May 2015

Strumble diary 22/05/15. Blood in the water- Shark Attack on porpoise???

We went to Strumble this afternoon to supposedly meet up with members of the Pembrokeshire Tourism and show off our porpoises but sadly only the porpoises turned up! Or perhaps not only porpoises... Several porpoises were in the rough water of the tide race quite a way out when suddenly I noticed a lot of white water as something biggish appeared to be thrashing about on the surface it was too far to tell what the something was but it looked quite violent. I moved over to our Telescope but the main action seemed to have stopped although what looked like the head and shoulders of an adult porpoise were moving as if held up by something beneath pushing it along. It appeared and disappeared a couple of times and I thought I made out a red stain in the surf just before it finally went down below the surface. It is difficult to be absolutely certain but I think what we witnessed was a porpoise being attacked by some other animal and held in its jaws until it was dead sufficiently subdued to be swallowed beneath the surface. Of all possible /likely candidates the only one I can think of that could do this without showing much of itself would be a large shark...
It took a while for the events to arrange themselves in my mind but I am 90% certain that's what we witnessed. There were lots of porpoises around but they were really not showing much the only shot I got was some time later of this surfing porp at distance...

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Pen Anglas porps

We had between 10 and 15 porpoises off Pen Anglas yesterday afternoon at around half past 3, with several gannets circling overhead showing us where they were in the choppy sea off the headland!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Strumble Diary: Friday 15/5/15.....

Just a quick visit to Strumble this morning, porp's were distant pic's sadly not up to kens standard he was there too hopefully did better after I left! Manxies were passing west out of the bay in groups of 10-20+. In the next couple of months they will start passing by into the bay on a morning and back out in the evening in their tens of thousands, a real spectacle


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Strumble Diary some remarkable images from Ken Barnett

Strumble is an amazing place and it attracts some amazing people. We recently bumped into Ken a keen local photographer equipped with his state of the art Canon camera and lens he said he had a few shots of porpoises and I said we would love to see them. Ken kindly brought his memory stick and said we could use them....WOW!

I think you will agree they are a bit special, especially as the porpoises are so distant.

This last picture is especially special as it is of what we believe to be a porpoise calf taking its first breath... Kens description was that he saw a porpoise dashing around in a circle thrashing its tail for several minutes. It then stopped and the next thing the calf popped up! I have seen similar behavior in the past but distant and not really getting what was happening. Thanks for clearing that up Ken! amazing!!!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Cetacean Sighting

Strumble Diary

On the 11th of May we went out to strumble head to monitor activity of cetaceans. There was a west wind. At around 5:30pm porpoises were spotted and were viewed coming to surface over five times. There was also a sighting of seals and some were bottling.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Another bit of the Atlantic

The Irish Sea is but a small  if very productive area  of sea connected to the North Atlantic. A couple of years ago Cristina Munilla Frances volunteered with us for six months and came back to us to fill in for Hannah whilst she took a leave of absence .

Cristina is from Santander in Northern Spain. It is possible to take a ferry from Portsmouth to Northern Spain and I have done this several times since 1994, and seen some amazing cetaceans. Other members of our European Cetacean Monitoring Alliance such as ORCA  and Marine Life have  been surveying from these ferries for several years and have built an incredible picture of what wonders the Bay of Biscay can produce.

It seemed a good idea to take the ferry with Cristina to her home town and then see if we could find a boat to go out in and see if we could find some cetaceans on her families doorstep!
So we set off last Tuesday on the "Pont Avon" with a small Sea Trust Team, (Cristina,  Janette, Chris, and myself to do a bit of a recce and also look at how some time could be usefully spent ashore for a few days if anyone fancied returning on a later ferry.

We had not long been on the ferry when we bumped into  Becky and Jess the ORCA   wildlife officers aboard the ship, and although gale force winds were conspiring to upset our mission, we decided to team up with them in the hope of finding some cetaceans. The next day Chris was up early (6 am) watching with Beth and Jess but I decided on a lay in, as a Biscay Storm pounded the ship. The forecast was for the storm to abate but when i went out on deck at about eight, waves that would measure five metres plus were sending spray crashing over the forward facing windows of the bar as I went in to eat breakfast with Janette, at least seventy feet above sea level!

I was not particularly confident the sea would calm down but we were delayed by the storm, giving us longer in the bay. By about three it was still  quite rough but the waves of the  big sea were dying back down and lacked the white crests making cetacean spotting altogether more likely. Cristina and Janette were watching with the Orca group whilst Chris and I were watching from the rear when a Fin Whale came up beneath them giving them exciting views. I managed to catch a view of a blow and Chris missed it entirely such are the vagaries of  cetacean spotting but Beth soon found some leaping Common Dolphins converging on our bows, magical!  

Common Dolphins speeding in to the bow of the "Pont Avon"               
Several pods continued to come in giving some spectacular views as the "Pont Avon" carried us closer and closer to Santander. With only an hour to go I spotted a blow and then a gain. It was small bushy and slightly angled and then we saw the back of a sperm whale emerge confirming my identification of the blow. This was a real treat with the whale slowly making its way on the surface giving everyone a thrill connecting with this deep diving leviathan. Cristina managed to film it so we will add the film when she is back from her days off.

So in the end Biscay delivered the goods  and it was great to meet up with Becky and Jess from ORCA   The sun was shining as we entered the harbour but it was not the end of our  hunt for cetaceans off the coast of Northern Spain. Cristina had also organised a trip in a yacht for us in the hope that we might get up close to some cetaceans.

The sea the day before had been pretty rough and there was still a good bit of swell but there was no whitewater and conditions were pretty much perfect. It took a while and under the hot sun I was beginning to flag a bit but something caught my eye and with the binoculars I spotted some dolphins ahead of us. Alex the skipper followed my directions and we cut a course to intersect their path. After an anxious minute or two they suddenly altered course and came speeding into the boat

They turned out to be Striped Dolphins which was exactly what I was hoping for so all in all a pretty good result!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

WOW courses 2015


Monday, 4 May 2015

Strumble Diary 4 5 15. half an hour this morning!

Barbara  and the walrus managed to snatch a brief half hour at Strumble this morning soon after high water. Porp's kept popping up in a very random manner making it almost impossible to get a pic , these were the best I could manage!

Mother and calf

Sea Trust Vol' Barbara Davies.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Strumble Diary: still plenty of Porp's

Not easy to see at distance in a choppy sea but still plenty of Porpoises and again a mother and calf.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Strumble Diary: Mayday Porp's

A bit of a contrast from yesterdays beautiful azure sea, the overcast skies made the water grey as the flood tide reached its top, Still The porpoises were there to be seen if distant, if only they came as close as this gannet!Both Kay and my black lab Zorro were enthralled!