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

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