Monday, 28 March 2011

Bottlenose Bonanza

A hastily arranged survey trip aboard the "Sulaire" today proved to be a real day to remember. Seven Sea Trust stalwarts left Newquay with skipper Steve Hartley shortly before 11 a.m. with a flat calm sea, a pleasantly warm sun and slightly hazy visibility. We headed straight out to sea with the plan to head north along the coast. A lone Porpoise was encountered a little way out and we then began to see several large groups of birds on the water - mainly gulls with some auks and a few Manx Shearwaters mixed in. Eventually some splashing was seen near one of the rafts of birds and this turned out to be our first pod of a dozen or so Bottlenose Dolphins, nearly all mothers with calfs or juveniles. They came over to inspect the boat and and gave some wonderful views as they cruised slowly around us and briefly rode the bow wave.
We were all very satisfied with that encounter but things got really exciting some time later and a good distance up the coast when we found a group of 30 or so Bottlenoses in a very exuberant mood. Sections of this large group came very close at times and there was an amazing amount of interaction with Dolphins leaping, tail slapping and rolling over. What we could see above water was fantastic - heaven knows what was going on below!
After some time in this group's company we headed back for Newquay around 4 p.m. and saw another group of a dozen or more Dolphins. again with several calfs. This pod seemed to be on a mission however and took no interest in us but traveled steadily on with long periods submerged.
A further lone Porpoise was seen on the way back and our total tally of Bottlenose Dolphins was 57. A truly wonderful day and a great first small boat survey of the season for Sea Trust. Many thanks to to skipper Steve Hartley and to Cliff Benson for arranging the trip.
For more photos click here