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True identities of Weymouth’s ‘bonnie’ dolphins revealed

Former Moray Firth residents, Honey and calf, spotted in Weymouth

The origins of two bottlenose dolphins who have spent the last two summers feeding and playing around in Weymouth Bay, Dorset has finally been revealed.

Hundreds of visitors have enjoyed the dolphin visitors from boat trips out of Weymouth Harbour, and had been named locally as ‘Harry and Wills’.

However, following a chance posting of an image of one of the dolphin’s fins on Twitter, their original identities have now been discovered.

Harry and Wills are in fact a mother and calf pair from the Moray Firth in bonnie Scotland, last seen in 2018/19. Mother, Honey, was first seen in the Moray Firth in 2009 and regularly spotted up to 2018, whilst her calf was born in 2016 and also remained until 2018.

The picture posted on Twitter was taken by Les Mears on 29th August, who was enjoying a Naturetrek wildlife trip.

The Scottish east coast bottlenose dolphin population has been expanding its range in recent years, with some of the dolphins photographed in coastal waters from north east England to Ireland, and to the Netherlands and Denmark. This though is the first time any have been identified in the English Channel, a distance in excess of 1,400 km south through the North Sea or over 1,700 km via the Irish Sea. An incredible journey either way.

WDC field officer Charlie Phillips, who initially identified the dolphins using the University of Aberdeen’s Photo ID catalogue of this population, said: “More very familiar dorsal fins seen many miles from home, thanks to Dr. Barbara Cheney from Aberdeen University’s Lighthouse Field Station who runs the dolphin ID project and catalogue for the confirmation, another two dolphins “found”. ‘

Dr Tom Brereton, Tour Guide for Naturetrek and Dolphin Watch UK and Research Director of the charity Marinelife said: “I’ve been lucky to see these dolphins many times this year whilst taking groups. I fired many images over to Charlie and the identities were confirmed by Dr Cheney.’

We recommend that people should enjoy encounters with dolphins from a distance and with reputable vessel operators.

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