Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Goodbye BND? hello WBD :-)

After a number of near misses, I finally caught up with the Bottlenose Dolphins on Thursday 5th June, and tracked their movement down the coast from Newbiggin to St Mary's Island.  I lost them at that point, as they headed across Whitley Bay.  They seem to have moved quickly south, and were reported from Marsden Rock...unfortunately as a pod of Minke Whales...subsequently 'corrected' to a pod of Pilot Whales :-)  The following day I was guiding for NEWT and took my clients to see the BND as they were just off Church Point.  The dolphins then relocated (again) to the Farne Islands, and the latest sighting report we have was as they travelled north of the islands on Monday 9th June.

Overlapping with the BND were the first few reports of White-beaked Dolphin around the south Northumberland coast; 11 heading N at St Mary's Island at 05:00 on Sunday 1st June (S. Lowe), two off Alnmouth on Tuesday 10th (via S. Wales), 40 off the River Tyne on Thursday 12th (A. Bunney/ORCA) and ~100 off the Tyne on the weekend of 14th/15th (ORCA).

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bottlenose Dolphins in North East England 2014

Back in 2010, the first North East Cetacean Project report identified May as the best month to see Bottlenose Dolphins in North East England.  In 2012 we finally had evidence that they move south past our coast in October, and 2013 backed that up.  This year, we're seeing something unprecedented...

In late March I received a report of White-beaked Dolphins off the mouth of the River Tyne.  Not out of the question, but quite early in the year for them to be close inshore.  I managed to track down some images that were taken of the dolphins, and reidentified them as Bottlenose Dolphins.  Again, slightly early, but no doubt about the ID.  Since then there have been almost daily reports (including more that have been misidentified as White-beaked Dolphin), covering an area of the east coast from St Abb's Head in the North to Whitby and Scarborough in the south.  The largest group reported so far is of 50 animals, and it seems likely that we have 50+ animals ranging up and down the coast in search of food.

Discussion with colleagues in Scotland, and study of images of BND from North East England in the last two months, indicates that the animals currently present down here are from the Moray/Tay/Forth populations and have been impacted by limited food supply in their 'expected' location.  If the distance they seem to be covering in our area is also due to not finding a suitable food source here, then this is quite worrying.  Some people consider their occurrence off the north east coast to be an exciting development, and few people wouldn't enjoy watching a pod of dolphins, but an informed understanding of the species' ecology and distribution will have many conservationists concerned about what has driven this unprecedented event, and what the potential consequences for Bottlenose Dolphin and the two small cetaceans that are regular off North East England (Harbour Porpoise and White-beaked Dolphin) could be.

If you have any images of Bottlenose Dolphin taken anywhere on the east coast of England in the last two months, we'd really appreciate the opportunity to compare them with the existing BND catalogues for other areas so that we can identify exactly which animals are present here, and where they are expected to be at this time.  Images can be emailed (original, unedited files as downloaded from your camera please) to martin.kitching@marine-life.org.uk and we'll acknowledge you as a contributor when we publish our findings about this unusual occurrence.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

White-beaked Dolphins 19/06/2013

10 White-beaked Dolphins 6nm E of Souter Point this morning (A. Skinner/SarahJFK).

NEWT's 16th year of North Sea pelagics gets underway this Friday, 21/06/2013, departing Royal Quays marina at 18:00 for a 4hr sailing off the coast of southeast Northumberland in search of whales, dolphins and seabirds.  Following a late cancellation we've got a few places available at £32.50/person.  Call 07908 119535 or e-mail martin@newtltd.co.uk

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Bottlenose Dolphins 09/11/2012

A pod of 20+ Bottlenose Dolphins are still present in the Bamburgh/Seahouses area.  During the major movement of this species along the Northumberland coast on October 21st, a pod of this size was lingering off Holy Island late afternoon, at the same time as 100+ were passing Newbiggin by the Sea and heading south.  Several reports since then suggest this may be the same group.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bottlenose Dolphins 21/10/2012

A remarkable series of reports for Sunday 21st October, with a pod of well over 100 Bottlenose Dolphins traveling slowly south along the Northumberland coast from Cocklawburn in the north to Newbiggin by the Sea in southeast Northumberland (latest report received by the North East Cetacean Project at 16:30).

Friday, 12 October 2012

Recent MARINElife North Sea Ferry Survey sightings from DFDS Seaways

Immingham to Esbjerg 7-9 Sept, Jutlandia Seaways
Common Seal with Grey Seal 325 (hauled out)

Immingham to Cuxhaven 14-16 Sept, Hafnia Seaways
Harbour Porpoise 1

Immingham to Brevik 23-26 Sept, Petunia Seaways
Harbour Porpoise 19
Minke Whale 2
Grey Seal 12

Felixstowe to Vlaardingen 25 Sept, Flandria Seaways
Minke Whale 1

Rosyth to Zeebrugge 14-15 Sept, Finlandia Seaways
White-Beaked Dolphin 2
Harbour Porpoise 1
Grey Seal 1

For more information please see http:www.marine-life.org.uk/sightings