Thursday, 31 December 2009

Scouring the seas

A major project for NEWT this winter is an offshore survey, primarily to search for White-beaked Dolphins, covering most of Northumberland's waters out to a distance of 20-35 miles (depending which sector we're surveying on any given day). As it's incredibly weather-dependent we're running the surveys at fairly short notice (we're usually confident enough to arrange the boat and the survey team 3-4 days in advance of sailing).

We've got a few spaces available for passengers on each survey, which are available at very low cost, so give us a call on 01670 827465 if you think you might enjoy a 7 hour pelagic into the unknown at some point in the next 6 weeks.

Best wishes for the New Year :-)

Friday, 4 December 2009

Tracking the leviathan

I had a call yesterday evening from Andy Tait, cetacean-watcher, videographer and NEWT pelagic guide. He'd had an e-mail from a cetacean researcher in Aberdeen, also cc'd to one of the country's top cetacean experts, asking the question "minke - seen this id'able character?"

Imagine Andy's surprise when the link he'd been sent was the one to the gallery on the NEWT website...

Here's one of the images;

That distinctive notch in the dorsal fin should mean that there's a good chance of the animal being located elsewhere. In fact I've seen an image of a minke, taken in the Hebrides in May 2008 (4 months prior to the image above), which is almost certainly the same animal. Which is interesting because it proves that there is movement of Minke Whales between the well-studied population in the Hebrides and the ones that we find off Northumberland in mid-late Summer.

The funny thing is that Andy was standing next to me when I took that photo, so he has seen this character. We've got this animal at two different locations, and we know the maximum length of time it took to travel between them. Hopefully more images will come to light and we'll have an even better picture of where this whale goes, and when.

With increasing interest in offshore wildlife trips there could well be more instances of photo 're-captures', and the potential for anyone on a pelagic trip with a camera to contribute to our knowledge of the distribution and movements of our cetaceans.