Dolphin watchers snap up grant
4:15pm Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News
Research teams will be able to build up a more complete picture of how Cardigan Bay’s famous bottlenose dolphins use the area, thanks to a grant of nearly a thousand pounds.
New Quay-based Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) ‘snapped’ up the grant from Environment Wales, which they’ll use to buy photographic gear to help them identify individual animals.
For the past eight years volunteers from CBMWC have been photographing dolphins at sea in order to identify animals, usually by unique nicks, notches and scratches on the dorsal fin on their backs.
CBMWC’s Science Officer, Sarah Perry, explained that to approach the animals close enough to photograph their fins, they need an official licence, the terms of which prohibit them from doing this in the harbour area.
“That’s because it’s felt this would set a bad example to recreational boaters and result in disturbance”, she said.
“We feel, however, that it’s important to identify animalsin the harbour to build up a useful picture of how they use the site.
“This requires a more powerful lens than we have at present to take photographs that are detailed enough to analyse – but unfortunately these are very expensive".
“Thanks to Environment Wales’ generosity we can now find out if the same animals visit the harbour every day and whether they return year after year “, said Sarah.
An example of this is ‘Nick’ (pictured), also known as Dolphin 015 among the 400 individual animals featured in CBMWC’s photo-identification catalogue.
Because of CBMWC’s work, Nick (a female despite the name), was first identified in 2005 and has been spotted and photographed more than 70 times.
It’s clear from the data that she’s a bit of a loner at times – though she is frequently spotted with another dolphin, ‘Cadfael’ – and she gave birth to a calf in 2007.
“It’s details such as these that help us build up a picture of how and where dolphins use specific sites and so identify any problems the population might face”, added Sarah.