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Local community helps piece together Risso’s dolphin puzzle

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

Thousands of photographs from members of the public have been published today in two WDC catalogues that help researchers piece together a Risso’s dolphin puzzle that will then protect these amazing creatures for years to come. 

So far we have received over 2000 photographs, including historical images, from Shetland, Orkney, and along the North and East coast of Scotland – which have been processed to create the Orkney and North/Northeast Scotland Photo-ID Catalogue, and the Shetland Photo-ID  catalogue.

Recognising individual dolphins from photographs is possible because Risso’s have distinct scars and marks on their dorsal fins and bodies, allowing individuals to be identified and recognised again and again - some for well over a decade. They get their characteristic scarring from interactions with other dolphins and from their prey, as they predominantly feed on squid and octopus.

Emma Steel, Shorewatch coordinator, commented on the need for this research saying, ‘Risso’s dolphins are amazing creatures and to protect their long-term future we need to better understand where they go and how they use different habitats. We basically need as many photographs as possible to continue to piece together the Risso’s jigsaw puzzle – we couldn’t have got to this stage without the help of the community”.

If you are lucky enough to take any pictures of Risso’s dolphins, please get in touch with WDC ([email protected]) and your images might appear in future revisions of the catalogues. You can also look through the existing catalogues to see if any individuals you’ve photographed have been seen before.

It’s thanks to WDC supporters, WDC Shorewatch volunteers, fellow researchers and members of the public, that these Risso’s dolphin Photo-ID catalogues have been published - citizen scientists helping to protect the local species they care about.

Download the Orkney & North/Northeast Scotland Risso’s Dolphin Photo-ID catalogue here.
Download the Shetland Risso’s Dolphin Photo-ID catalogue here.

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