Visitors in New Quay
We are very privileged to have a semi-resident population of bottlenose dolphins on our doorstep here in New Quay, so when we head out on the boat, we expect to spot them most of the time, along with grey seals and harbour porpoise. Last week we were lucky enough to spot not three but five different species of marine mammals during our surveys!
Bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay tend to favour the coastal areas, near headlands, where there is plenty of food. For that reason, we don’t often see as many when we go offshore but when we venture offshore, we do have a chance of spotting species that we won’t commonly see on coastal surveys and the wildlife trip boats.
During last week’s surveys, we had exceptionally calm conditions and as we got further and further offshore, we spotted a large number of birds. Seeing lots of birds is always a good sign, particularly when they are feeding as, just like dolphins, they feed on fish so if there are lots of fish, there’s a good chance that dolphins, or other marine mammals are not far away. And last week we were not disappointed. We encountered common dolphins on three of our surveys and even a minke whale on two trips!
This is only the second year that a minke whale has been seen on one of our surveys since we first started conducting them in Cardigan Bay, so we were understandably excited! One of our interns, Danny, spotted one first but wasn’t sure what it was, although he said he thought it looked quite big – maybe even big enough to be a whale. After a tense five minutes with everyone scanning the horizon, we finally spotted a long back break the surface of the water and we knew instantly, this was a whale!