Thursday, 28 October 2010

Early bird catches the Risso's!

I was feeding my chickens around eight o clock this morning when the phone rang. I dashed indoors and it was a call from our local fisherman, Tich Rees from his boat just off Pen Anglas.

Tich told me he was getting views of a really big white animal with some smaller ones, as he was lifting his pots. What he was describing was obviously a Risso, which he described as "shining white with a big dark fin". Given the murky character of the early morning it was obviously a sight to behold and close enough to get a good view. I asked Tich if he could get a photo with his phone, he said they were pretty wary and moved off whenever he started his engine but would try.

It is interesting that although we have seen plenty of Risso's over the years , they don't seem to have been catching the attention of the fishermen until recently. Risso's around here are notoriously boat shy, perhaps they are becoming less so in order to exploit whatever food that is attracting them into our coastal waters. Maybe its just that the fishermen are becoming more aware...

Another issue is the one of size. In the available literature they are variously described as being less than four meteres in length (a little over 12 feet), averaging around three (under 10 feet). This would make them similar size to our big northern Bottlenose Dolphins.
Tich and everyone I know that is familiar with our Bottles consider the Risso's to be significantly bigger. I would estimate the larger ones presumably old bulls, to have been over 4 meters around 15-16 feet and generally bulkier in proportion.

It may be that our northern Risso's are larger than those found further south (as are our Bottlenose Dolphins) Size is always difficult to define at sea but we are extremely experienced observers and it is our distinct impression.