Introducing Cornwall’s resident Bottlenose Dolphin Community

Tuesday 21st November 2017

Bottlenose dolphin by Dan Murphy

Cornwall Wildlife Trust, on behalf of the Southwest Bottlenose Dolphin Consortium recently held a unique event to showcase findings from recent research on these amazing animals, and to introduce our resident community of bottlenose dolphins.

We are incredibly lucky here in the Southwest of England to have bottlenose dolphins in our waters and to regularly see them from land and boat. Sadly, however, there is currently no specific protection offered to these animals and the establishment of protection measures will only be supported if robust evidence can be provided.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust launched its Bottlenose Dolphin Appeal during 2015 to raise awareness and much-needed funds to progress this work and is pleased to say a huge amount of work has been conducted in the past year as a result of that funding.

Work conducted over recent years by many organisations and individuals including MarineLife, Marine Discovery and Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust highlighted the importance of the region for bottlenose dolphins. However, this was only part of the picture and Cornwall Wildlife Trust instigated the formation of the Southwest Bottlenose Dolphin Consortium, a collaborative partnership including scientists, research groups and eco-tourism operators, to build on this work to better understand our local dolphins.

The recent Southwest Bottlenose Dolphin evening, held at the Ecopark in Porthtowan, was a unique opportunity to bring together experts, volunteers and those passionate about our local marine wildlife to find out about the work achieved over the last year. Those attending heard about Seaquest, the Trust’s citizen science project which gathers sightings of all marine life seen around the coast, as well as results from recent acoustic monitoring using innovative technology designed by Nick Tregenza at Chelonia Ltd based in Mousehole, that listens to the clicks produced by dolphins and porpoises.

The highlight of the event was from Rebecca Dudley, MRes at University of Plymouth, who has been analysing all sightings and photographic data, collected from a large number of collaborators between 2007 and 2016, to assess the social structure, residency, and distribution of bottlenose dolphins in southwest England. Rebecca introduced our resident group of inshore bottlenose dolphins, a group of approximately 28 animals who regularly use our inshore coastal waters and have a very distinct social group.

Ruth Williams, Marine Conservation Manager at Cornwall Wildlife Trust says,

“This research is proof that we have a resident population and is incredibly exciting. It has answered so many of our questions including how many animals we currently have and how far they range. This is vital information if we are to better protect our bottlenose dolphins from the many threats they face. Further work is needed but this is a huge step forward and I am proud of what this partnership has achieved. The future of these iconic animals is in our hands and we need to make sure the few we currently have in southwest waters are given the protection to not just survive but to thrive.”

A summary fact sheet of this research can be found at http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/living-seas/bottlenose-dolphin-p...