Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Whales and dolphins in the North Sea ’on the increase’

04.04.2005


A project to map the presence of whales and dolphins off the North East coast has recorded sightings of no fewer than 614 individual creatures in the space of 12 months.



The Newcastle University project was led by Joanna Stockill, of the University’s Dove Marine Laboratory, at Cullercoats, which is located on the coast near Tynemouth.

Joanna enlisted the help of local fishermen and members of Royal Northumberland Yacht Club to carry out the study, as part of a project entitled: ’The North Sea: A Sustainable Future’ which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. They were given guidelines about species identification, and asked to complete questionnaires each time they made sightings of whales or dolphins while at sea.


The purpose of the study was to encourage people who use the North Sea regularly, for work or recreation, to put forward suggestions for the management of the coastal waters in order the protect their future.

’Whales and dolphins are protected under international and European regulations, but we want to find out if anything can be done on a local scale. That is why we are asking people who use the sea on a regular basis to come up with ideas for raising awareness of the presence of whales and dolphins in the local environment’, says Joanna.

Some of the suggestions put forward include installing information boards on Blyth promenade showing the species that can be seen off the coast, producing leaflets for distribution in libraries and other public places, such as supermarkets, and preparing education packs for use in schools.

The study recorded sightings of six different species in an area stretching from North Northumberland to Whitby North Yorkshire. The species recorded were harbour porpoise, Common dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, Long-finned pilot whales and White-beaked dolphin.

Linda Lane Thornton, honorary secretary of the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, and her husband, Andy, go out most weekends during the sailing season in their yacht, Layback. Mrs Lane Thornton said: ’We have been sailing from Blyth for three years, and we have definitely seen an increase in the numbers of whales and dolphins. The general feeling among yacht club members is that there are more about now’. Mrs Lane Thornton also spotted for the first time - and managed to photograph - a White-beaked dolphin with its calf off the coast of Embleton.

Rising water temperature and the abundance of food, such as herring and mackerel, now available are thought to be among the factors responsible for the increased numbers of whales and dolphins being reported from some parts of the North Sea.

White beaked dolphins were the most frequently-sighted species, including one particular sighting of a school - or group - of around 250 dolphins, 25 miles off Cullercoats, reported by fisherman Kevin Dickenson.

Other local fishermen have also confirmed that they see large schools of dolphins migrating to and from the central North Sea at the start and end of summer.

Peter Evans, Science Director of the Sea Watch Foundation, which monitors whale and dolphin distribution around the British Isles assisted with the identification process. Dr Evans said: ’Numbers of white-beaked dolphins tend to build up in late summer, often associated with aggregations of mackerel or herring. They are the commonest dolphin in the North Sea, ranging over wide areas particularly in the northern and central parts’.

Perhaps the most surprising statistic revealed by the study was the number of sightings of Risso’s dolphin - a flat-nosed dolphin which can grow to up to 3.8 metres in length - which accounted for 12 per cent of the total sightings. ’Risso’s dolphins are primarily a warm water species, with few records from the North Sea, so that could indicate that the North Sea is getting warmer’, said Joanna. ’The sightings of common dolphin also support this theory, because they are more usually found off the South West of England, where the waters are warmer, extending in midsummer to the west coast of Scotland, but rarely into the North Sea, but in recent years, sightings have become more regular off North East Britain’.

Blyth fisherman, Stephen Moss, whose trawler Green Pastures is the only large trawler still fishing out of Blyth Harbour, says the presence of Risso’s dolphins in the North Sea could also be because of an increase in the numbers of squid, which are an important food source for Risso’s, as well as for White-beaked and common dolphins and the Long-finned pilot whale.

’The sea is changing’, said Mr Moss, ’As well as squid, we are now seeing commercial quantities of red mullet, and occasionally pilchard. This year, we were catching mackerel until Christmas, so we are definitely seeing change in the water temperature’.

The study also asked participants to record details of the behaviour of the creatures they spotted. Joanna comments: ’The survey reported fairly standard behaviour in most cases, which helps us to be confident of our identification process. For example, Harbour Porpoise are a shallow water species, most commonly found swimming slowly close to the coast, and most of our sightings of them fitted this pattern of behaviour.

’We did also record more varied activity among white-beaked dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and common dolphins. These species had more interaction with vessels, such as following the boat, rubbing on the hull, or even trying to score the occasional fish that escaped from the nets as they were being hauled in’, she added.

Melanie Reed | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ncl.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>