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Image from one of the WDC Risso's dolphin research catalogues

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Mysterious dolphin makes its home in Welsh waters

A rarely seen dolphin species has made its home off the Welsh coast according to a new WDC scientific study, part-funded by Natural Resources Wales.

The research has shown that individuals from a population of the shy Risso’s dolphin, a large grey creature with a blunt nose, have been returning regularly to live and breed in the remote waters off Bardsey Island in north Wales.

The scientific paper, published in the latest edition of the Open Journal of Marine Science, also provides the first population estimate for this little studied species.

Risso’s dolphins tend to avoid boats and can dive to an amazing 300 metres thus giving them an air of mystery. They are also a rare sight in the North East Atlantic and WDC’s patient research in this region has been on-going for almost two decades, slowly building up a collection of ID images that allow individual dolphins to recognised and tracked over time.

Chris Butler Stroud, chief executive of WDC comments: ‘This new research underlines that this is a small population and that the waters of north Wales are important for it. We must do everything in our power now to make sure that this small group survives’.

Risso’s dolphin facts

-The body of an adult Risso’s dolphin generally has a base colour of grey that is almost hidden by the pattern of white scars.

-The numerous scars are caused by their prey, squid, and are made by other Risso’s dolphins.

-They can dive to depths of around 1000 feet and remain submerged for up to half an hour.