Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch was set up in June 2006 by John Galpin, known to his friends as Galps. Galps moved to the island in the 90’s and from his house on the coast, began seeing whales, dolphins, and porpoises from his window. Ever curious, he wanted to find out what he was seeing but soon discovered that no literature existed about cetaceans in Manx waters as no-one had ever studied them here before
Galps got in touch with the Sea Watch Foundation in Wales and began the task of discovering which species could be seen in Manx waters. He achieved this, firstly by creating our original website and setting up a public sightings network for people to report what they had seen. Working on physical descriptions and photographs of the animals and relating them to species thought to be in the Irish sea, he was able to gain an idea of species local to Manx waters. He told the public about his discoveries by running talks about his findings.
In 2007 Galps decided that in order for the organisation to progress he needed the help of marine mammal scientists to start conducting scientific research. One of the original scientists was Tom Felce who runs Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch today. At the time, Manx waters were completely undiscovered in terms of cetacean activity and no research work had ever been conducted. With no idea what to expect or the potential of what they would achieve, it was going to be a huge challenge….
Now, over a decade later, we have discovered vast amounts of information through our research projects. We know that Manx territorial waters are home to five key species of cetacean and we have a high density of different species for such a small area. Our waters are a critical habitat for the Risso’s dolphin, a species which is understudied and scarcely see in many parts of the world. The Isle of Man is home to one of only a handful of inshore populations of Risso’s dolphins in the whole of Europe and individual dolphins choose to return to our coast year after year to feed and bring up their young.
We were devastated when John Galpin passed away in October 2014, but we will continue to dedicate our lives to the cetacean research he began all those years ago. In July 2016 we received generous funding to purchase our own research vessel and named her ‘Galps’ in his honour. Without Galps perhaps the wonders of Manx waters would still be a mystery?
Thank you John Galpin for opening our eyes.