Monday, 1 March 2021

Wandering Bottles!

Fiona Day based at Dale Fort contacted Sea Trust when she saw a big pod of dolphins she identified as Bottlenose Dolphins, feeding in Dale Bay in the mouth of Milford Haven.

We rarely see Bottles south of Fishguard so when she said they were Bottles I was a bit worried that she might have confused them with commons. Not knowing Fiona or her ability to tell them apart, I was a bit cautious to begin with until I remembered that we have had several large pods passing by here heading North at this time of the year. I have often thought they might have been having a winter break in warmer climes. 


Fiona sent some pic's and sure enough they were bottles! My best guess is they were feeding on the Herring that spawn in the Cleddau over the winter and will now be returning to the sea. So, are these Cardigan Bottles taking advantage of a seasonal slap up meal on their way back to Cardigan Bay or is this an annual visit from Cardigan Bay to the Cleddau that we have not been aware of in the past? 

Either way its great that we have a sharp pair of eyes overlooking the mouth of the Milford Haven, nice one Fiona! 

  



Thursday, 4 February 2021

Sea Trust Needs Yor help

 A happy new year to all you good folks out there. Now I know that like me all you good people must be missing our regular postings of our fabulous porpoises and local marine life. The covid pandemic has affected so many facets of our lives and curtailed many of our (Sea Trusts) activities and in common with many organisations that rely on funding we too are feeling the pinch with funding sources even more precarious than before. 

The Porpoise Photo ID project is world leading and the team has done wonders for this area of research over the past five years or so, but sadly unless we can boost our funding the project is at risk of ceasing. This would be so sad as so many of our volunteers and even the greater public get so much out of the well being and education this project brings.

To achieve our goal of raising enough funds to carry the project over the months ahead we have set up an appeal on "Local Giving" and we so humbly seek your support. Any donations large or small whatever you can afford will be so greatly appreciated.

 We are aiming to raise at least £3000 by the end of June. Please show your support by donating at https://localgiving.org/appeal/porpoiseappeal/  🙏 We can do this ✊ 
 
Ken B  Project co-founder.

Monday, 11 January 2021

End of Year Round up Part 4.

So we were, (we thought!) beginning to get back to normal or new normal, with face masks and social distancing. Ken was certainly on the ball contributing his porp shots and adding to Holly's Fin ID catalogue ...



Mid month the weather deteriorated as it always seems to as the School holidays begin but towards the end of the month Common Dolphins were beginning to show again he also had a nice session where some old friends turned up!...


Strumble Diary 24/07/2020

With high tide late morning it was a reasonably early start. A light SW wind pushing the tide race along meant it was a relatively calm affair. The porpoise were distant at first and whilst the photo ops were OK I had to dig in when processing to get the detail out. The action lasted about an hour with porps showing on and off over that period. Two marked porpoise for the project, one being Denty who's been showing up quite a bit lately and the other possibly Jupiter or Biscuit with a distant showing but just close enough to see the two nicks in the dorsal fin.








August arrived with a bit more loosening of the regulations. 
We prepared the Ocean Lab for social distancing, sanitizing and on line bookings.
Lloyd and Brad began collecting for the aquarium as we had released all our fish!
At Strumble porpoises continued to show including marked individuals and
females with new born calves.

 

But the Common Dolphins vied with the porpoises for stars of the month!
60 or so followed their prey into Fishguard Harbour, putting on a show!
They were even visible from our Ocean Lab base!(seen in the background) 







Occasional Sunfish turned up for Ken at Strumble and more Commons!






Monday, 17 August 2020

Strumble Diary from Stevo!

 

Stephen Lucas

Attachments20:11 (2 hours ago)
to me
Monday 17th August

Joel and I went to. Strumble Head and we saw a large pod of. Common
Dolphins in front of a flock of seagulls and gannets altogether. The
time of sighting was 11:40am. The sea conditions was absolutely flat
calm. Perfect sea watching conditions.

P:S The Common Dolphins are still at. Strumble Head since last.
Thursday 13th when they got sighted.

allthingsgood
Stevo & Joel.
one of Stevo's images of a common Dolphin!


Monday, 31 August 2020

Strumble Diary 30/08/2020

 

When I arrived at the lookout I could see some splashes and lots of gannets out to the NE about a mile or so. Getting the Binos on them I could see there were a good number of common dolphin under twenty or so gannets. They were feeding well and remained there for fifteen minutes or so before charging off in a westerly direction crossing my view. I have tried to capture some of them on video to give you an idea of the scene but this is only about 40% of what I estimated to be 60-80 animals. 

Later it was the turn of the porpoise and as the tide increased a good number came in giving us a reasonable show although some remained distant. I'd estimate some 40 or so animals passed through over the three hours of action. A little excitement during the session as a group of very distant Rissos (4-5miles out) were really going for it with several breaches resulting in very large splashes easily visible in the excellent viewing conditions.


And as the summer slipped away into Autumn The Risso's began to show again! along with more commons and porpoises and sunfish!







Where else but Strumble? Oh yes and then there are seals...
so common we hardly mention them!


Septembers Risso's kept on coming!


                                                     Some Risso action from today's session.


I arrived shortly after 10am an hour after high water in readiness for the dropping tide. Visiting birder Gabriel was seated outside the lookout and informed me I was just in time as there were four or five Rissos just off to the NE. So getting the kit set up quick smart was the priority. That done and Leo secured I had the lens on them and thought they were swimming away. Thankfully they turned and came back passed the lookout giving a lovely show as they did. Eight in total, three very young ones, two juvenile size and three adults. Shortly afterwards I spotted a Bottlenose making it's way very stealthily through the tide race and off to the west. About twenty minutes after that Cliff arrived and we set about scanning the sea for any signs of cetaceans. Over the next couple of hours we sighted at least four groups of Rissos with an estimated total of 30-40 animals plus the eight confirmed from earlier. The porpoise count for the day was 30-40 but today it's all about the Rissos. I hope you enjoy the video above 

Sea Trust volunteers and our cetaceans were out there come wind and storm!



Strumble Diary Team Sea Trust bag 3 of the big five!


Ken was first on station at 0900 I arrived at 1030, Ken already had scored with Risso's and I had scored an hour later with common Dolphins, I will leave Ken to  enlarge on what was a lovely way to add pics and words . Holly came along on her day off with volunteers Mair and Hannah who also connected with Risso's and porpoises, a just reward!

AS autumn turned towards Winter we were still out there!!!

  









  




Sunday, 10 January 2021

End of year round up Part 3.

 

The sunny calm dry weather had been a godsend allowing us to enjoy time in the garden but it had been frustrating in that things would have been perfect for Ferry surveys or small boat surveys but we had not even been allowed to do our work from the shore I think at the time, everybody thought we had seen the worst of covid, The English government seemed in a rush to get back to normality, here in Wales we were more cautious.but as we came out of the first lock down and restrictions on travel were relaxed the ability to work together again became possible... 

Minke magic, Minke mystery at Strumble!

Having heard of Kens incredible morning cetacean fest several of us, Holly Lloyd Fran and self could not resist the temptation to head on down to Strumble to see what we could see.we set up just below the Lookout socially distanced and as  we did so,  both Holly and Fran let out gasps of amazement as a Minke surfaced just a couple of hundred meters away, Fran's first ever Minke!

Lloyd and I missed it! but could see the footprint on the flat calm surface....
For half an hour we strained our eyes searching for the elusive rorqual At about twenty five feet long and weighing in at over ten tonnes you would think re-sighting it on a mainly flat sea would be easy. you would be wrong!
We had just about given up and were concentrating on some ridiculously distant porpoises, when Fran called out something big we all tried to get on it and lo and behold , at least a couple of miles out...

And so it continued for the next ninety minutes, distant porpoises distant Minke's and odd porpoises. all the minke sightings of animals heading right to left...Thrilling stuff but then we saw one heading back our way...

And then another surfaced much closer!




And then even closer, (Holly's shot!)


And so that was the magic! but the mystery was how many Minke's did we actually see? Definitely two seen well apart from each other, but there could have been half a dozen.I guess we will never know but one thing is for certain it was a cetacean spectacular none of us will ever forget!

Although we were unable to use the ferry for our surveys the Stena Europe's crew had not forgotten us and I was really happy to get this email from Sean

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Sean's Stena sharks!

Just got this from Sean Boyce ,Senior Master of the Stena Europe! I am guessing the lazy dolphins were Risso's!
Good evening Cliff,

I hope you are well?

We have been blessed with a lot of sighting of Marine Life this evening aboard Stena Europe

For a period of about 30 mins in approximate position 52 10N, 005 48W (27nm west of Strumble head lt.

We saw a variety of (lazy) dolphins & at least 6 basking sharks ranging from about 40 feet in length down to about 10 feet

I thought the above info would be of interest to you

Take care,

Best Regards,
Seán...


As local people began to go a little further afield and enjoy our wonderful coastline we started to get sightings of sunfish being
 reported to us. Perhaps it was the particularly warm and sunny weather that contributed to the number or sightings or that the 
weather had been particularly beneficial in creating a food chain acceleration with more plankton producing more jellyfish and
 thence attracting the sunfish inshore but either way they were here nearly two months earlier than usual and in large numbers!... 

Sunfish further North! from ZaK Prior

  
Zak Prior had two yesterday!...
 Mate, the first 1 was off Cardigan island and the second 1 was just off Pen Belis west of Aberporth beach




Stackpole sunfish! From Peter Brooker.

 Spotted one today , Just off Stackpole Quay probably 500 mm diameter we rowed quit close first one spotted by us

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Stevo's Strumble Sunfish!

Yet another from Stevo!

Mum, Dad and Stevo L went to. Strumble head and we saw again another sighting of a small sunfish going with the tide race.And the time was 4:15pm plenty of sunfishes about it is interesting stuff.

Phil Davies 

Wed, 24 Jun, 18:53 (23 hours ago)
 
to me
Hi
I just saw a post asking for information of sightings of sun fish. Last week I took a passage from Milford have to Falmouth and back and we probably saw 2 dozen ranging in size

.I spoke to Phil and he said there were loads of Sunfish mainly south of Lundy so it looks like there are plenty more to come!

The sunfish sightings continued throughout the month in fact it seemed the Irish sea was giving of its best!

Strumble Diary,: Common Dolphins complete the Big Five set for June!

In among all the Sunfish A few Sea Trust Volunteers (Hannah, Callum and Stacey) turned up at Strumble and joined in with Holly on a watch  I had arrived earlier and found Hannah there. There were quite a few Gannets feeding and also probably 15-20 porpoises spread over a large area but too distant for my camera.



Just before I left I spotted what looked like a pod of Common Dolphins in the far distance... I later got an email from Holly..Its so nice when things work out!

The dolphins came in a bit closer, so I at least got some record shots in case you want them.

Cheers
Holly

Also had a text from Richard Campbell  reporting four more from Strumble! So all the Pembrokeshire Big Five seen from the shore within 5 miles of each other this month! (Minke Whale, Risso;s Bottlenose, and Common Dolphins, Harbour Porpoise) not to mention all the Sunfish... Its good to be Back! 


So June 2020 was exceptional in almost every way and promised to keep up with the quality!

Strumble diary 30/06/2020

What a difference in two days. As rough as it was yesterday it was very calm today but spoiled by low cloud, lots of drizzle patches and very low light. Not so good for the photos then so today's shots are mostly for the record. Having said that it was another of those days when you get thrown a curve ball as Strumble has a nack of doing at times. So yesterday I had a single porpoise close in and beating that today were five porpoise close in including a mother and calf and one marked animal resighting, but it started off with a trio of common dolphin as I arrived mostly shrouded in the misty drizzle. Anyway back to the porpoise.
   They were first sighted just inside the tide race straight out from the lookout at about 800mtrs. They made their way closer and closer eventually entering a small bay between the lookout and Makerel Point. Lloyd, one of the Sea Trust staff happened to be fishing on the point and had a cracking view of this group close up as they made their way past the point right in front of him. Some thirty minutes or so later they returned back around the point, came right under the lookout and headed off around the lighthouse and off to the west.





So Ken was back in action and team Sea Trust with Holly's Photo ID volunteers were producing the goods. West Wales as a whole had been relatively unscathed by Covid with Ceredigian and Pembrokeshire having some of the lowest reported cases in the UK.

Hywel Dda University Health Board area.

Two of the cases of the virus were found in Carmarthenshire and one in Ceredigion, none were found in Pembrokeshire.

In total there have now been 747 cases in Carmarthenshire, 47 in Ceredigion and 283 in Pembrokeshire.

 Schools and shops were reopening and it seemed we were over the worst...