Thursday, 10 September 2009

Rewriting Risso's

On a Sea Trust/Stena ferry Survey 9/09 -10/09, a minimum of 48 Risso's (including females with calves) were recorded in a total ot 8 seperate encounters by Sea Trust volunteers; Adrian Rodger, Rich Crossen and myself. The weather played its usual tricks and had the conditions been more favourable we may well have doubled that figure.

Given half decent conditions we have been seeing Risso's on most of our ferry crossings since the spring and generally this has been a long term trend over several years. Unfortunately we do not usually get close enough to get really good ID photo's although Rich has still managed to capture good record shots.

What seems obvious from our records, some of which go back as far as the 1980's is that Risso's are frequent, probably resident in the Irish Sea. Also that the Irish Sea as a whole, not just Cardigan Bay, is an important breeding area for these grey ghosts of the cetacean world. The fact is, there are very few records for the greater part of Cardigan Bay despite quite a lot of cetacean recording effort.
The main areas in which Risso's are mostly spotted are between the Pembrokeshire Islands up to Fishguard and across to the Wexford coast, along the Irish Coast to to Arklow, The Isle of Man and then off the Anglesey/Lleyn peninsular with hardly any records between The Lleyn and Strumble Head/Fishguard. They have also been regularly spotted in Pembrokeshire waters in all four seasons from land and sea!