Monday, 6 September 2010

Press release

Disturbing times in Fishguard harbour, twice in the past month Common Dolphins (which are rarely seen in coastal waters) have entered Fishguard Harbour becoming disorientated and in danger of stranding. Cliff Benson Sea Trust south and West Wales founder/coordinator, is concerned that it may be due to Naval actions in the area. Several British warships have been exercising in Cardigan Bay in recent weeks including both HMS Echo and HMS Quorn. We also saw a submarine in the area last week whilst conducting our Dolphin-othon surveys aboard the Stena Europe.

It seems strangely coincidental that groups of dolphins end up wandering around in circles seemingly disorientated in the harbour, which is a completely alien environment for these oceanic wanderers. This at the same time as the senior service are being quite active in the vicinity.
I tried to contact the commander of HMS Quorn, passing on my contact details and some copies of our Wildlife guide whilst they were refuelling in Fishguard Harbour on Friday. I hoped he might contact me so I coulsd give him some of our recently collected daata but I have had no reciprocation.

We have been monitoring the area all week along with others of our shore based observers. The Common Dolphins have been in the vicinity of the harbour for most of the time and would be vulnerable to any loud sub surface explosions or electronically transmitted noise.
I am not saying these unusual occurrences are down to Naval exercises but it does seem suspicious.

Last time we were fortunate in being able to ask the Fishguard Ladies Rowing Team to push them out to the safety of deep water. This time I felt it better to let them find their own way out as it got darker and the tide receded. I only hope it was the right decision and that they find their own way out this time.

During our week long Dolphin-othon surveys aboard the Stena Europe, crossing the Irish Sea from Fishguard to Rosslare, we averaged 2.3 sightings of cetaceans per hour and 14.8 animals per hour. This is staggering, better than almost anywhere else in Europe. We are trying to make this clear to all the maritime authorities and stakeholders but it may be an inconvenient truth to some...