Sunday, 25 May 2014

Celtic Deep today

We went out up to 20 miles due SW from Skomer today as part of Oxford University's Manx Shearwater research work. Fantastic birds (see the Pembs Birds blog) but, arguably, even better cetaceans. As well as a handful of very obliging Porpoises around Skomer, we found multiple pods of 20+ Common Dolphins across a c.5 square mile research area. and more pods on the (long) trip back.

I have commented before on how hard I find it to count dolphins, even in such optimal conditions. All I can say today is that, in 90 minutes of drifting research work and slow-speed motoring we almost never lacked for the very close presence of Dolphins (including a single small pod of Bottlenoses). Interestingly almost all were mature adults;  sub-adults composed less than one fifth of all the animals.

We saw 3-4 Minke Whales, including two that circled our drifting RIB for nearly half an hour, frequently passing directly under us, the large white fin patches easy to see even 10+ ft down.

And one other much larger whale along with a couple of Minkes. At least 50% larger than the accompanying Minkes, this larger whale did not arch its back on diving, and had a proportionately much larger, more vertical fin. We think it may have been a Sei whale.

An astonishing experience, and one that reinforces Cliff's long-held view that our waters hold astonishing numbers of cetaceans.