Friday, 7 July 2017

A little bit old and a little bit new!

Team Sea Trust continues to evolve as we say goodbye and good luck to Chantelle and hello to Holly!
Holly is the successful applicant to replace Chantelle and this has been her first week with us. Its never easy starting a new job in a totally new place but she was welcomed aboard by Marged, Brad, Anna and Rens (Hope all went well with your return journey Rens) and is already up and running with our "Porp Fin" photo ID project that she is coordinating.

Left to Right: Marion Adrian and Holly.
Yesterday she hooked up with "porp fin" volunteers Adrian and Marion, and also a couple of old friends Apache and Ringo. 
Adrian got this perfect ID shot of Apache and Ringo showing Apache's patch and Ringo's eye ring!
The weather was not looking favourable with low cloud /fog enveloping the approaches to the harbour but as the tides were unhelpful for our Strumble porpoises it was the only option in terms of Marion and Adrian getting some practice.

Thankfully the fog rolled back but it was still overcast not perfect conditions  for photography but luckily the dolphins moved into the harbour mouth and began feeding which gave us some better shots...

We thought there were probably two mother and calf pairs including A&R as well as a mother with a smaller calf Than Ringo who we estimate to be at least five or six years old.

As the light improved and the animals got closer we noticed one animal with distinctive fin markings, not tears or scars but just a hind of dark /pale crescent shaped pattern. On examining the images we got its not entirely clear if the left and right shots both belong to the same animal, but anyhow we have tentatively named it "Moon".

It will be interesting to see ifwe really do have another animal with a reliable ID. There are also some tiny but noticable nicks on the trailing edge of the fin pictured below, fascinating stuff!
 What continues to be obvious, even with these large animals seen at relatively close range we struggle to get accurate counts.we think there were at least two females with attendant calves and at least two other adults. Would I risk a hundred pounds on the accuracy of our estimate? hmm... not even a tenner!

Thanks by the way to Sash T, for his report of the Risso's below. Back in the 1980's Strumble Supremo Graham Rees, named a very large white animal seen there as Moby Dick.  That was at least thirty years ago probably nearer forty. Just supposing it was the same animal which was probably at least ten years old and more likely 20, that would realistically put it into its fifties or even sixties! 
Given that Fungi the famous Irish Bottlenose dolphin must be at least fifty years old its not impossible! 
The  books say that Risso's get whiter with age due to scarring but having seen extremely pale calves and juveniles I suspect we may get dark and pale phase animals!