Saturday, 26 January 2013

Are they there or are they not...?

I remember a couple of years ago managing to join the EW survey vessel Vigilance on passage from Neyland to Aberystwyth in February. I persuaded the skipper Mark Williams to go around the Bishops and Clerks as they have always fascinated me. He did but gave them a wide berth,  I did see a lot of  Gannets and other sea birds feeding within the island group. Sadly it was too far to see for sure if there were cetaceans present  but I find it really difficult to believe that if there is enough food to attract the feeding frenzy of at least fifty gannets and several hundred Gulls etc that there were not some cetaceans involved.

We did  have had closer inspections during the autumn months on both the Cartlett Lady and the Prince
Madog and recorded Porpoises on both occasion as well as Commons and Risso's. I am hoping we might get a few days of still dry weather some time this winter so we can take out the CL and have a look, you are both welcome to come along if it happens (and Lisa of course!) In recent years i think a pod of around sixty common dolphins have been semi resident in the area from St Davids to the Teifi, at least from May to September but perhaps longer. You would think they would be easy to see but this lot are pretty sneaky and not always as obvious as you might think. I have also known Porpoises to be very sneaky with hardly a fin tip showing as they surface. Its probably how they manage to "dissappear ". I suppose a C / T pod or two or a fixed hydrophone out there might be worth a try, maybe they would be easier to hear than see... especially at night!

I just had a  meeting about  our next SEACAMS research surveys with Mike Roberts of Bangor School of Ocean Sciences  and we are planning a better look in that area next September. Above is a sample of the sea  bed we went over between Carreg Rhoson and the North Bishop. Its got to be attractive to all sorts of fish and therefore cetaceans, I would have thought!

Greg's info on the gannets is fascinating as someone who has spent many hours at sea in the winter plying back and forth across the Irish Sea and watching from Strumble.  It is my definite impression that there are more gannets around in the last couple of winters than previously. I remember watching for  Fin Whales off Ram Head in  West Waterford  and also Hook Head in Wexford (which is much closer) and seeing lots of gannets in January. There are also lots of herring. I always presumed they were ours from Grassholm or the ones off the Saltees, it seems from Gregs info I was wrong, seems mad  that ours should go away and others from away come here!