Saturday, 30 July 2011

Fishy tails from the Celtic Wildcat!

Yesterday's small boat survey aboard the Celtic Wildcat with skipper Nick O'Sullivan was (given the usual dodgy weather forecasts) a little bumpier than expected but we managed to get out and covered over ninety miles of sea including the Celtic Deep, the Smalls, a look at the Gannets of Grassholm and then back inshore with a brief visit to Skomer and Skokholm Islands.We had four Common Dolphin encounters although for some reason none seemed to want to join us for long. None the less everyone had good views and some pic's. (See photos here)
Brief but exciting sightings of three blue sharks was fascinating, all were in the Celtic Deep and some distance apart. They look a bit wallowy and weedy with the tips of their dorsal and tail fins flapping about on the surface but as one woke up at our approach and shot down to the depths, its true streamlined and dynamic charecteristics were revealed.
I say woke up, they do seem to be almost asleep! Also of interest was a big old bull Grey Seal, way out from land near the Celtic Deep.

The Gannets as usual put on a great show and the seabirds in general were pretty good, with an early Bonxie, single Storm Petrel and a lonely Turnstone, as well as a few newly fledged pufflings. The Puffin colonies of Skokholm and Skomer were nearly deserted, only a week after our last visit when there were still hundreds to be seen. We were hoping for an encounter with some big blubber but the conditions were not so helpful and we might be a bit early as most of our sightings of fin whales were in August...

Hmmm, next trips are in August, we shall see what we will see!

Yesterday/Friday was tinged with sadness as it was Verena's Bolender's last day working with us here in west Wales. She came to us first in August 2010 and helped organise and deliver last years Dolphin-othon. She also helped deliver our school days and lots of other stuff before she left in the snows of late November.
I managed to persuade her that Pembrokeshire is really warm and sunny in the spring and to come back in May for a second three month term. In this last term with us she has been the driving force with Dr Rob Davies and Colin Russel's team at the West Wales Biodiversity Recording Centre, in developing our new mobile recording system, as well as being the lead author of our latest Ferry Report which is just waiting for the last finishing touches before we publish it.

The good news is that she heard yesterday that she has been accepted for a place in Heidelberg University, the oldest and most prestigious seat of learning in Germany! I am sure all of us who have worked with her are not in the least surprised and will be wishing her well with her future studies!
Thanks for all your hard work on Sea Trusts behalf Verena, we will miss you!

Verena helping to deliver our recent "Marine Day" for Shropshire Wildlife Trust.