Wanted! Dolphin and whale watchers.
The marine research charity, Sea Watch, is seeking nature lovers, local yachtsmen and women who will be willing to spend time watching out from the Cornwall coastline during this summer’s National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW).
Bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen off the Cornish coast while sightings of Risso’s dolphin are slightly less common but occur mainly between March and September. Short beaked common dolphin occur mainly offshore between August and December but they can also be seen from land and harbour porpoise are seen throughout the summer.
Groups of long-finned pilot whales are sometimes seen offshore, particularly in November and December along with white-beaked dolphins. Minke whales are often seen around Porthgwarra with fin whales known to pass through in the winter months. More unusually a sei whale was seen from Gwennap Head, Porthgwarra in July 2008. Observers can carry out watches from land or, if they have access to a boat, from sea and no experience is necessary.
Key locations for sightings include Bude, Trevose Head, St Agnes Head, St Ives, Pendeen, Land’s End, Gwennap Head and Lizard Point.
National Whale and Dolphin Watch is being held from August 7 – 15. Information gathered creates a snapshot of the distribution of dolphins, whales and porpoises – cetaceans – around the coast, feeding into scientific discussions on abundance and distribution.
Sea Watch Sightings Officer Gemma Veneruso said: “We are hoping to recruit people who are willing to commit to spend some time during the watch looking out at locations near where they live. Any time that they can spare would be appreciated. We have some observers who do watches all day everyday and others who do one two hour watch and it is all beneficial. They will need binoculars. A compass is useful, but not essential, as is a camera. I will be sending out detailed information to all volunteers about the species they can expect to see locally, how to identify them and the sort of information we need recording”.
“Volunteers’ sightings will be in addition to public watches which will be held at various points along the coast and will supplement our existing observers and co-ordinators. We are hoping to build as comprehensive picture as possible of what species are around our coast during that period. We would also like to ask any local environmental organisations/centres or commercial boat operators to be involved in the event by doing their own watches.”
Sea Watch collects sightings data all year round which helps to feed into discussions to help shape marine conservation policies aimed at protecting the whales, dolphins and porpoises around our coast.
To become an observer, or for more information on Sea Watch’s sightings network and other research projects, see www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk.
Anyone interested should contact Gemma at Sea Watch on 01545 561227.