On 7th January 2017, whilst carrying out a boat-based survey, we encountered a pod of around 10 Bottlenose Dolphins 1/2 a mile off Douglas Head. What made this encounter special was it was a dolphin crèche. The pod consisted of adults, several juveniles and a couple of very young calves. As part of our research work, we take photographs of the dorsal fins of the animals, allowing us to catalogue and recognise individuals. Our friends at the Sea Watch Foundation based in Wales got in touch to request photos and try to match animals up with the known Bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay. It is known from previous photo-ID work that many of these dolphins spend the summer in Cardigan Bay and move up to Manx waters during the winter, to feed. 

We have recently had confirmation that there was one individual in the creche pod that is known very well to Sea Watch. Her name is NicNic and she is recognisable by the two notches at the top of her dorsal fin and the white dot on the lower right-hand side of her fin.


NicNic with a young calf in Wales, taken by Katrin Lohrengel in 2015

NicNic in Wales taken by Katrin Lohrengel in 2015

NicNic has been known to Sea Watch since 1990, making her at least 27 years old. In this time, she has raised a number of calves, including Splash and Button, who feature in the Magic Dolphin book http://www.themagicdolphin.co.uk/ She used to be seen a lot around New Quay, but in recent years has been venturing further afield and seen increasingly around Cardigan and Fishguard. She was seen last year mainly around Cardigan Island and Mwnt. This is the first time that NicNic has been known to visit the Isle of Man, and it is very interesting that she was in a pod containing juveniles and calves.

Thank you Katrin Lohrengel from Sea Watch Foundation for proving the above information and two photographs. Sea Watch Foundation hold the national cetacean database and collate sightings from all around the British Isles and Ireland. http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/

Photo-ID is a fantastic non-invasive alternative to tagging, If anyone has any good quality, side on dorsal fin photo’s of Bottlenose, Risso’s or Common dolphins, we would love to see them.

NicNic (on the far right) with 3 other adult dolphins off Douglas head. Photo by Mike Kelly