Isle of Man Risso's dolphin encounter 'a rare privilege'

Risso's Dolphin near the Isle of Man Risso's dolphins are identifiable by their scarred skin

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Marine researchers have described a "privileged encounter" after photographing 15 Risso's dolphins, about one mile from the Manx coastline.

Manx Basking Shark Watch (MBSW) scientists came across a pod of 14 adults and one juvenile on 12 July.

The Risso's group, which consisted of several large males, was spotted near The Sound off the south coast.

Jackie Hall from the MBSW said: "This was the best Risso's dolphin encounter we have ever had. "

She added: "They repeatedly came right up and under the boat to take a look at us - it was amazing, a total privilege to be observed by such beautiful animals."

A recent survey suggested warmer seas could be responsible for a change in the type of dolphins being spotted off the northern shores of the British Isles.

The North East Cetacean Project found an increase in sightings of common, bottlenose and Risso's dolphins - species associated with warmer waters.

"Record week"

At the beginning of the summer, the Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch recorded a "record week" in terms of dolphin sightings around the Manx coast.

On 25 May a pod of more than 60 individuals, including calves, was filmed off the north coast. The group included Risso's and Bottlenose dolphins.

"Their dorsal fins were so big that for a fleeting moment we wondered if they were Orca, it is easy to see how the big male Risso's are often misidentified," said Mrs Hall.

Risso's dolphins are identifiable by their scarred skin caused by other Risso's dolphins who use their front teeth when playing and fighting.

They have stocky heads without a beak and are light grey to white with a white chin.

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