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New ferry survey launched to monitor endangered whales and dolphins in the English Channel

24.07.2006
Marinelife, the West Country-based marine conservation research charity, has extended its whale and dolphin monitoring in the English Channel by working with Brittany Ferries on their Plymouth (UK) to Roscoff (France) route.

Marinelife, has been monitoring whales and dolphins in the English Channel continuously for the last 12 years. The surveys, which have chiefly been conducted from Portsmouth, have confirmed that the Western English Channel, although an incredibly busy area for shipping and fishing remains an important area for whales and dolphins. Minke Whales have returned to the waters in recent years, and other species present include the endangered Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise, both protected under the EU Habitats Directive.

Other species have also been seen in these waters, but little is known about whether these sightings are unusual or within their natural range. Sightings include Common Dolphin, Pilot Whale and Risso’s Dolphin, together with Basking Sharks which are often seen off Plymouth during the spring and summer months.

Dr Tom Brereton, Marinelife Research Director commented “We are excited about the new survey, as it will enable us to better monitor the changing status of whales and dolphins in the region. We hope that the new data will play an increasingly important role in helping to conserve these beautiful and charismatic animals, so beloved by the general public. We are a small charity, and the research would not be possible without the generous support of Brittany Ferries, for which we are extremely grateful”

Marinelife plans to run its whale and dolphin research trips from Brittany Ferries on a monthly basis and record the distribution, abundance and types of whales, dolphins, other marine life and birds present in these UK waters. This data can then be used to identify whale and dolphin hotspots, seasonal and annual movements and threats to the marine life including fishing by-catch, which accounts for a large proportion of the dead Common Dolphin washed up annually on the West Country coast, especially during the winter months.

Research on the Plymouth to Roscoff route commenced on Tuesday 13th June 2006, with sightings of endangered and protected Bottlenose Dolphin on the maiden research crossing. This helps to confirm the vital nature of further research in this busy area of ocean to aid in the conservation of marine mammals around the British Isles.

Adrian Shephard | alfa
Further information:
http://www.marine-life.org.uk/pressrelease/200606.html

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