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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dolphins in British waters

We normally travel halfway around the world to catch glimpses of the amazing sealife that holds us in rapture. But how many would be surprised to learn that dolphins are resident in the UK as well.

Cardigan Bay in Wales is one of two spots that is is home to a population of about 200 bottlenose dolphins. While enjoying a short break to the area around New Quay we were treated to a awe-inspiring surprise show at the sunset as they played in the water in front of us.

The pics don't do it justice (zoom lens not as powerful as binoculars) but I thought I'd share them with you.

We had gone down to enjoy a romantic sunset on the headland above the beach at Mwnt when they made an appearance and we sat enthralled for the next 45 minutes taking in the free show.

According to experts at Ceredigion County Council, the inshore coastal waters around Mwnt are ideal for seeing dolphins, porpoises and seals. Nearby New Quay sees them approach the harbour walls.

The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, established in 1996, is now carrying out research on the pod, primarily through photo ID. The Centre works in collaboration with Dolphin Survey Boat Trips to collect vital research data and information on the marine mammal populations found in Cardigan Bay.

Every year they also run 'Dolphin Watch' and researchers believe sites like Mwnt are important for foraging as well as centres for social interaction and transit routes and sightings here have increased between 1995 and 2007.
While sightings can never be guaranteed, as long as you are patient the chances are high. A calm sea with the sun behind you makes it easier and sea birds such as gannets circling above can help pinpoint areas of interest. With the naked eye, scan for dark blips of dorsal fins, the splash of white water or sun glinting off their wet bodies. Then train your binoculars in that area for when they next pop up for air.

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