Monday, 8 June 2015

Manorbier Risso's Spectacular

(Or, never leave your camera at home!)

 A gentle stroll with my wife around the headland at Manorbier this morning turned into a Risso's Dolphin spectacular. We had paused at Priests Nose, the headland at Manorbier Bay, to look at the 100's of Barrel Jellyfish which were close into cliffs in dense shoals. Doubtless the jellyfish in the area must have been in the 1000's. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a large splash halfway over towards Barafundle Bay and shortly afterwards saw a Risso's breaching. Though pretty distant at this point we could see a minimum of 5 individuals as they swam around in the same area.

Things got better and better as the Risso's started making their way towards Priest's Nose and us, occasionally breaching. Eventually they were no more than 50 metres off the shore and they made their way slowy eastwards - a minimum of 8 animals. They could clearly be seen underwater and we could hear them blowing as they came up for breath. I had wondered if the jellyfish had brought them into the area and sure enough on 3 occasions dolphins were seen at the surface with jellyfish apparently wrapped around their heads! Either they were playing with them or, more likely it would seem, feeding on them though a quick search of the internet refers to them eating mainly Squid and also cephalopods, krill, and crustaceans.

As they started to drift further east and further offshore the best was saved 'till last when a distant animal breached 5 times in quick succession, turning onto it's back as it re-entered the water. Then a closer Risso's, no more than 150 meters away replied with 7 successive breaches, again turning onto it's back with each breach.

We finished our walk a little stunned by a truly spectacular cetacean display just 10 mins from home! If only I had brought the camera - but then again it was great just to enjoy the occasion.