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Charity takes steps to increase whale & dolphin research ‘Marinelife’ extends its vital monitoring of ...

... endangered whales and dolphins

‘Marinelife’ has extended its EU-recognised whale and dolphin research conducted in partnership with several well known commercial ferry and transport operators in order to further enhance scientific knowledge on endangered whale, dolphin and seabird populations in and around the UK and European coastlines.

From March 2008, the charity will start operating monthly research surveys on two new year-round survey routes and periodically on a further multi-port survey route.

• Monthly from Poole (UK) to Santander (Spain) passing through the English Channel and Bay of Biscay with Brittany Ferries Freight on their ship Cotentin.

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• Monthly from Felixstowe (UK) to Vlaardingen (Netherlands) passing through the English Channel with Norfolkline Ferries

• Periodically from Felixstowe (UK) to another east coast UK port or Rotterdam (Netherlands) through the English Channel and the North Sea with Feederlink on their ship Clonlee.

‘Marinelife’ Community & Operations Officer, Emma Webb, said: “These additional routes will significantly increase our ability to monitor endangered marine species and complement our existing research routes operating from Portsmouth (UK) - Bilbao (Spain) and Plymouth (UK) – Roscoff (France)”.

The research protocols that ‘Marinelife’ have developed and used over the last 13 years have led to strong partnerships with commercial ferry operators who have been very willing to assist with whale and dolphin (collectively known as cetaceans) conservation.

‘Marinelife’ Director, Dr Tom Brereton, commented: “The research work of ‘Marinelife’ has been invaluable in providing year round monitoring of endangered whale, dolphin and seabird populations and understanding how these populations change with season and from one year to the next”.

‘Marinelife’ Senior Researcher and PR Officer, Adrian Shephard, said: “The crew on board the commercial vessels we operate from are often as enthusiastic about whales and dolphins as the volunteer research teams; they love finding out more about the wildlife in the waters they sail through day in and day out”.

The first survey with Brittany Ferries Freight was a successful experience for all involved passing through rich and diverse marine habitats and ‘Marinelife’ look forward to the forthcoming surveys with Norfolkline Ferries and Feederlink. ‘Marinelife’ also aim to further extend its research routes into new areas in the future through its existing partners and also through new potential partners.

Marinelife’s unique long term monitoring project, the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme (BDRP) has been conducting monthly scientific whale, dolphin and seabird surveys through the English Channel and Bay of Biscay for the last 13 years, using the P&O Cruise Ferry, The Pride of Bilbao, as a research platform. In 2006, the charity extended its research in the English Channel with Brittany Ferries operating between Plymouth (UK) and Roscoff (France) on the Pont-Aven. The charity is also a founder member of the Atlantic Research Coalition (ARC), a partnership of many marine charities working together in adjacent areas of ocean in Europe to better understand the pattern of cetacean behaviour and threats they face.

Adrian Shephard | alfa
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