Monday, 28 April 2014

Strumble Head Survey

Easter weekend, the sun was out (well mostly) and Morgan was off on a new adventure in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, joining WCA partner Malcolm Barradell and the charity Sea Trust for a harbour porpoise survey at Strumble Head. Sea Trust is a community interest company based in Fishguard surveying whales and dolphins in the seas off Pembrokeshire. The company runs boat based surveys, as well as conducted surveys from the ferry between Fishguard and Ireland, in addition to conducting land based surveys from Strumble Head.

Morgan at Strumble Head

Beyond the surveys and research Sea Trust run regular activities with local school children and events to raise awareness of local issues affecting marine life within Welsh coastal waters. In addition Sea Trust, in association with Pembrokeshire College runs Wildlife Observer Wales training courses, ranging from Seabird Observing for Beginners, Whale and Dolphin Observing for Beginners to Seabird and Cetacean Monitoring courses. A fantastic way for people of all ages and interest to get involved.

Bank Holiday Monday and our little Morgan was taking part in an organised land based survey mainly for harbour porpoise, the smallest species of cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) inhabiting European waters. Harbour porpoise are widely distributed around the UK coast, with their near shore distribution bringing them into close contact with human activities, in particular high numbers of harbour porpoise are caught each year in fishing nets as bycatch, levels that are not sustainable at a population level. Strumble Head attracts large numbers of harbour porpoise in part due to the strong tides providing super feeding habitat. Sea Trust continues to work in order to establish the area as a marine protected area. 

Scanning for cetaceans

Today for Morgan and all the others busily scanning the racing water off the headland it was not just the harbour porpoises that turned up, but a group of very active Risso’s dolphin! With their blunt, rounded heads, tall sickle shaped dorsal fin and their bodies heavily scarred with white scratches the Risso’s were unmistakable. Pembrokeshire forms one hotspot for Risso’s dolphin around the UK and the species is regularly seen during such watches especially during winter periods. Just another indication of the importance of this beautiful little corner of Wales. 

Breaching Risso's Dolphin!

Find out more about Sea Trust at and find out more about the WCA at

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Stop the Orca Circus

The World Cetacean Alliance and many other charities and individuals believe that keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for entertainment is morally and ethically wrong. Our little Morgan feels the same. The heartbreak suffered by Morgan who instead of being returned to the waters off Norway where her family is found, was sent to Loro Parque to live her days in what is basically a bath tub, is shared by many other Orca’s. To date 19 of the 53 Orca’s in captivity were wild caught, from Lolita taken from the waters of Puget Sound off Washington State in 1970 to Narnia and six other Orca taken from Russian waters in 2012 and 2013. Then there is Tilikum, taken from Iceland in 1983, involved in the deaths of three people and the focus of the film Blackfish. Since 1961 at least 144 Orca have been taken into captivity from the wild, 87% are dead. Of the 33 Orca’s born in captivity and have since died they survived an average of 4.5 years (source: WDC The Fate of CaptiveOrcas in 2014). And that is just for Orca, not considering the other dolphins kept in captivity and performing to entertain, from belugas to bottlenose dolphins.

There are a number of campaigns, demonstrations and petitions calling on companies like SeaWorld that hold captive whales and dolphins to set them free or to retire them to sea pens. Such campaigns, petitions and movies like Blackfish show the power of people. The more people that stand up and say ‘No, this is wrong’ the more likely organisations like SeaWorld will and have to listen. And it is working. Concerts being cancelled at SeaWorld where revenue is down, a bill proposed to end killer whale shows in California, Sir Richard Branson’s engagement process looking at captive whales and dolphins – to name but a few.

To keep the momentum going The World Cetacean Alliance and Responsible Travel have launched a new campaign called Say No to Orca Circuses. We at Follow Free Morgan have signed the petition and would encourage everyone who believes as we do, that keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for entertainment is wrong, to do the same.

So stand up with our little Morgan, be part of the movement and help make Orca’s and all dolphins performing for public entertainment history.   

Sign the petition and find out more

Signing the petition! #NoOrcaCircus