Saturday, 4 June 2011

Porpoise watching

There has been a lot of cetacean activity around Fishguard this week, with our WOW Sea Bird course students watching gannets diving over at least twenty porps on Wednesday afternoon,  followed by a pod of at least six bottles off the outer breakwater in the early evening.
This afternoon Verena and the Walrus had another look from the outer breakwater and we were treated to half an hour of quality if somewhat intriguing  porpoise watching,
Verena spotted a porpoise reasonably close off the Cow and Calf's rocks, I got onto it and than realised there was a very small calf just behind it. The adult disappeared and the calf wobbled about in a somewhat confused manner before heading off in the opposite direction. It looked extremely young, at a guess no more than a day old, the dorsal seemed still a bit flopped over. I was concerned that the adult seemed to have abandoned it but after a minute or two it and the calf were seen in the same vicinity briefly before the adult disappeared again. The calf plopped around and even attempted some spy hopping, seemingly distressed by the repeated abandonment. I have seen mothers leave a calf and go off on a feeding foray for a few minutes but some how this mother seemed not as connected as usual...
Having been in the sad situation of finding a similar sized juvenile all alone in the harbour, catching it and sitting with it in the sea for a couple of hours before ending up watching it being euthanized by the vet last year, I may have been guilty of getting a bit emotionally involved. 
Perhaps it had simply been due to a mother lacking the necessary bonding and abandoning its calf? Maybe I was overreacting. None the less it seemed that the mother was not entirely aware of her maternal obligations as she seemed to keep leaving the porplet trying to catch up in her wake, rather than sticking close to it as it made its way out from the shore. Our last view was of the couple of them heading out into choppier water with the calf close-ish but not glued to the mothers side as is more often the case in such circumstances.
Lets hope my fears are proved wrong in the next couple of days...