Hi everyone, my name is Jen and I am the Outreach and Education Officer for Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch (MWDW). I have decided to create a new monthly blog to keep our supporters in the loop about recent sightings, education projects and our general day-to-day work, so pop the kettle on, sit back and enjoy this little nugget of whale and dolphin love…
Bizarrely, January got off to a good start weather wise with a wonderful calm spell and plenty of opportunities to see our winter visitors, the Bottlenose dolphins. The 7th January saw a pod of around 80 dolphins decent upon the west coast, where they were seen just off Peel Breakwater by lots of lucky observers out for Saturday lunch at the Kiosk. All other sightings this month have been off the east, in particular, Langness, where one encounter on a windy day left photographers in awe as the dolphins leapt and surfed through the waves- watch the video below filmed by Alec Steele. The most recent sighting occurred on 29th January when a pod of around 15 Bottlenose dolphins, including calves, were spotted off Port-e-vullen.
The 7th January was also a very special day for the MWDW team as we took our new research vessel out to sea for her first ever survey. We departed Peel at first light and headed for the Calf of Man, before turning east where we encountered a small nursery pod of Bottlenose dolphins just off Douglas Head at 11:30am. The pod contained adult females and at least 3 very young calves, so young that their skin was a very pale shade of grey. Observers up on the headland watched this pod for the remainder of the day, in the same area, teaching their young how to feed and play.
On the same day (what a good day that was!), 2 Minke whales were reported by a member of the public in Garwick Bay. Another recent Minke sighting occurred off Marine drive on Christmas Eve, when one lucky fishermen filmed the whale up close and personal, circling his boat. The video was posted to our facebook page.
Our vessel, Galps, photographed by Andy Howland in Peel Harbour
Bottlenose dolphins off Douglas Head, photographed from our research vessel
The calm spell also made way for some land-based surveying with a further pod of Bottlenose dolphins on seen off Port St Mary on the 19th by myself and Tom, who runs MWDW with me. The pod, which were 2 miles offshore, stayed in the area throughout our 2 hour survey. Our local network of observers have also been out conducting surveys and have been lucky enough to spot various groups of Harbour porpoise off Marine drive.
Setting up at Port St Mary
Later on we surveyed east of the Sound and saw 1 Harbour porpoise
I have also had the pleasure of running sessions to 3 different youth groups in January; the Rainbows and Guides in St Ninians and the Scouts in St Johns. I would like to say a massive thank you to the children for being so enthusiastic and well behaved and to the group leaders for inviting me along. I also presented a talk to Ramsey WI and spoke to a fantastic group of ladies.
Talking to the Rainbows
Measuring how big the animals are
I have also been busy writing up the 2016 report for our local land-based surveyor project. This year we will be continuing the project and will once again offering free workshops to local wildlife enthusiasts. Dates are yet to be confirmed but will take place in April or May, so watch this space.
Just before Christmas we had a meeting with the Department of Economic Development to discuss ways of promoting eco-tourism on the island and spread the word of our amazing marine life.
So there we have it…a nice little overview to the start of our year. We have lots of ideas and projects in the pipeline and will be busy as bees putting these into place. 2017 marks our 11th year working at the forefront of cetacean research on the Isle of Man, and on behalf of the team, I would like to say a huge thank you for your support. Public backing really means the world to us and we couldn’t continue without your support and sightings reports.
Keep up to date with live sightings info via our facebook page