Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Long Boat Ladies Save Dolphins!

Fishguard Ladies long boat team came to the rescue when a pod of Common Dolphins became trapped in Fishguard Harbour yesterday. I got a report from Stacey Wall one of our volunteers working in the harbour saying there were loads of dolphin there close in, splashing about.

We do get Bottlenose Dolphins in the harbour every now and again so I was not particularly worried but drove down to see them. Quite a crowd had gathered and the dolphins were within a few yards of the shore just muddling about in circles. It was then I realised they were not our usual Bottlenose Dolphins but Common Dolphins, a species that rarely comes inshore

They seemed disorientated and confused but I thought they would go back out as the tide turned. Three hours later they were still there and in danger of getting stranded as the tide dropped. I then got Stacey to contact Rod Penrose (Welsh Marine Mammals Strandings Coordinator)

Just as I was wondering what next to do, the Fishguard Ladies Longboat team hove into sight along with Catherine Davies another Sea Trust Volunteer . I called them over to help, and asked them if they would try and drive the Dolphins out to deeper water.

Several boats were moored between the dolphins and the safer deep water which seemed to act as a barrier.

By rowing hard, and manoeuvring between the dolphins and the shore, the ladies would get them moving in the right direction only for the dolphins to turn back.
It was exhausting work for the girls but eventually they managed to shepherd the dolphins through the boats and out into deeper water.

Ian Hotchin another of our volunteers was waiting with his motor yacht. Between them they herded the animals to safety. It was beginning to get darker by then and so we made the decision to leave them in peace and allow them to find their way out through the deep channel to the sea.

I returned first light this morning and the dolphins had obviously made their way safely out to the open sea!

We do see Common Dolphins from the coast occasionally but more usually offshore from boats, or the ferry.

Apparently there had been a lot of mackerel around which would have attracted them inshore. There were also some witnesses who thought they saw larger more aggressive Bottlenose Dolphins around , which may have panicked the commons and driven them into the shallow water.