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Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Risso’s dolphins in North Wales – Bardsey Fieldwork 2016

It seems that this year’s Bardsey fieldwork has been and gone in a flash, it felt like I was only on the island for a few days when in fact 2 weeks had flown past, and I now find myself back in the office. Thanks to funding from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), we were able to be on Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli) for two weeks starting over the August bank holiday weekend.

The weather has been a bit hit and miss for us this year; we would have spells of calm seas in the mornings that were soon whipped up into a frenzy by the wind, making it impossible for us to scan or get out on the boat.  Or very thick fog that we could only see a few feet in front of us, we often couldn’t even see the sea which was quite frustrating!

However, in between the rough seas we did have some excellent conditions for scanning and boat trips where we had a number of Risso’s dolphin sightings. In fact, we had Risso’s sightings every day (when we could see the sea), and some wonderful sightings of harbour porpoises too.  

We often saw groups of up to 8 Risso’s dolphins hanging around the north and west coast of the island, some were mothers with calves. We managed to get out in the boat a couple of times, on one occasion the dolphins were elusive and stayed a good distance away from us.

Another encounter was with a group that were spread out as they were foraging, making it hard as we had to zigzag back and forth between them. One of the animals was completely white making it easier to spot. However the sea conditions were a little choppy, and deteriorated whilst we were out forcing us to end our boat trip early. In fact our colleague guiding us from the land would often lose sight of us as we disappeared behind the large swell!

For me the highlight would be when we were scanning from our platform at the north end of the island, and 2 Risso’s came in very close to shore right below our feet! We jumped into action grabbing our cameras and taking a number of photos from land. We were able to identify them as dolphins we had first photographed in 2014; we had named them H and Turtle due to the marks on their dorsal fins. Not only is it good to see these two individuals again, but they were also spotted together in 2014 and again this year.

Read all about our Bardsey Island fieldwork, and why we study Risso’s dolphins and harbour porpoises in particular.

Watch a video made by our funders NRW, using footage we shot in 2014 and 2015, about the Risso’s dolphins and why Bardsey Island is important to them.

About Vicki James

Policy officer - Stop Whaling