Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Porpoise ponderings

David Sayer 17 Jun (2 days ago)to me

Went to strumble head amazing, Saw many porpoise and gannets near lighthouse and observatory made my day and holiday
Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Andro


This and another somewhat briefer email From Rich Campbell yesterday, helps illustrate just what we have here in terms of porpoises that are easy to see by anyone visiting Strumble....

Over the years we have recorded large numbers of Porpoises at Strumble Head, aggregations of over a hundred animals on occasions which is far more than are seen anywhere else in the UK as far as we can ascertain.
Three slow scan counts yesterday from Strumble Lookout between 10 am and 11 am, resulted in 98, 112, and 87 and these are only the animals I could see on the surface. It would probably be reasonable to assume that for every animal on the surface there was at least one beneath.
Plenty of other seasoned and reliable observers such as Elfyn Pugh and Powell Strong have witnessed this "Porpoise Soup" (as Elfyn once referred to it) as well as old birding friends such as retired and much respected County Bird Recorders, Graham Rees and Jack Donovan to name just two.
Interestingly we do not get these kinds of numbers when passing Strumble on the ferry but there may be several reasons for this, including the fact that we are moving at around 20 MPH and that a vessel weighing around 30,000 tons must make a certain degree of disturbance.
Recent discussions with Phil Lees who has regularly been spotting porpoises between Strumble and St Davids Head suggests there may be some movement between the Ramsay Sound, Bishops and Clerks area and if this is so there is little reason why they should not move around the other Pembrokeshire Islands of Skomer and Skockholm as well in a much larger dynamic. The fact that we often see Porpoises from the ferry all the way from Fishguard to Rosslare also adds to my speculation that this incredibly hydrodynamic area might add a larger dimension to our perception of porpoise movement and activity around the SE tip of Ireland and the SW tip of Wales and the offshore and coastal features between, It would also explain the fluctuations in numbers that seem to periodically occur.