Record Isle of Man dolphin sightings lead to photo appeal

Bottlenose dolphins off the Isle of Ma coast According to Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch it has been a record week for dolphin sightings in the Isle of Man

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A record week of Isle of Man dolphin sightings has led to a photo appeal by a UK marine conservation charity.

This week a pod of more than 60 individuals, including calves, was filmed off the north coast, along with dozens of Risso's dolphins.

A Sea Watch Foundation (SWF) spokeswoman said the unusual sighting may be evidence the dolphins are shifting their summer range northwards.

Sightings of basking sharks and porpoises were also recorded.

Bottlenose dolphins normally visit Manx waters between October and March to feed on herring, mackerel and whiting.

The Cardigan Bay organisation is now asking people to send them any photographs they have taken of dolphins, which show their fin, near the Isle of Man, the north east coast of England and the Galloway.

'Particularly significant'

The spokeswoman said the fin photos are used to "identify individuals in the same way you fingerprint humans".

According to Tom Felce of the Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch (MWADW) it has been a record week for dolphin sightings.

Common bottlenose dolphin

Common bottlenose dolphin
  • Common bottlenose dolphins are found throughout the world, except in polar regions
  • Dolphins are mammals so must return to the surface to breathe every few minutes
  • They manage this while sleeping by resting one side of their brain, allowing them to remain conscious enough to surface
  • Extremely social and known to help one another - injured dolphins are protected by others on the surface

Source: BBC Nature

He said: "There has been a clear increase in the number of sightings in Manx waters in the last three years, with sighting numbers increasing from around 15 a year, to around 50.

"The majority are in the winter months, between October and March, so a sighting of such a large group towards the end of May is particularly significant."

Mr Felce said an usually high level of herring off the north coast of the island could have attracted the dolphins.

All photographs received will be cross referenced to see if they match records from either Welsh or Scottish populations.

SWF's Daphna Feingold said the report of bottlenose and Risso's dolphins swimming together near the Isle of Man were "unusual for UK coastal waters."

She said: "In recent years we have been noting what may be a shift in the Cardigan Bay population northwards, and we are concerned that this may be due to disturbance since recreational boating has increased and has been shown to have a negative effect on the animals."

The foundation is calling for added protection for bottlenose dolphins around the north coast of Wales.

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