The windy watch - Bardsey Island Survey 2017
14 September 2017 - 11:29am
Another Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli) field season is over, this time a little earlier than planned as the strong winds, some of which were over 50 mph, made it impossible for us to survey. However in the short time we were there we were treated to some dolphin delights.
We arrived on the island at the beginning of September, to undertake our study into the Risso’s dolphin and harbour porpoise populations there. It was a fairly calm and murky day, but the Risso’s dolphins were around. In the late afternoon we were watching a group of Risso’s dolphins as they hung around off the west cost of the island, they put on a welcoming show for us with a number of breaches. We hoped that this was a good sign for the rest of our survey, but the weather had other ideas.
Soon the winds had picked up and the sea state rapidly deteriorated, along with the visibility. With the sea too rough to be able to see any harbour porpoise or dolphin fins in the sea, we were restricted to casual watching of patches of inshore waters, where we were lucky enough to see Risso’s most days, but weren’t able to get out in a boat to take photo-identification pictures due to the foaming seas.
When we couldn’t watch for dolphins, we helped out with the study on the breeding grey seal population that give birth on the island each autumn. We photograph the beautiful white-coated seal pups with their mothers, as the study aims to find out if females use the same sites each year for pupping. We are quite happy to sit and watch these beautiful animals many of which love posing for the camera!
Thanks to The Bower Trust and Swansea University SEACAMS, for funding us this year.
Read all about our Bardsey Island fieldwork, and why we study Risso’s dolphins and harbour porpoises in particular.