Bottlenose dolphins keeping us looking to sea through the winter


Photo’s: Bob Taylor 2008

Bottlenose dolphins keeping us looking to sea through the winter!

On the 9th November we had a nice calm spell of weather making marine mammals easy to spot. The calm seas didn’t let us down and a very large, active group of Bottlenose dolphins were seen close inshore on the east coast. We have had many reports from the public about the dolphin’s movements throughout the course of the day, and this is the picture we have so far…

The first report was at 08:50 of a pod of around 50 in Laxey Bay, they were then spotted at various points along the coast where they made their way up to Ramsey Bay at  11:45. In the bay a small sub-group of 5 individuals had split off and were seen close inshore, meanwhile further out the main group were still seen leaping and fast swimming. At 13:00 many of the group were seen travelling north from Ramsey to the Point of Ayre, while at the same time another sub-group of around 20-30 individuals remained further south and were seen travelling from Dhoon to Cornaa. The total number of individuals in the pod as a whole is estimated to be at least 100 including juveniles.

 Bottlenose dolphins often split up into sub-groups over a wide area. This may help them hunt more efficiently with smaller groups concentrating on a particular area to look for food. They are predominantly seen close inshore on our east coast from Douglas up to Ramsey where the sea is shallow. Since our studies began, Bottlenose dolphins have always been winter visitors to Manx waters when they head north from Wales where they spend the summer. However, over the last two years the pattern has changed and we have had a higher frequency of sightings throughout the summer months. As many of our other species leave Manx waters during the winter, perhaps to move to deeper waters to feed, Bottlenose dolphins remain the main dolphin species seen from October through to March. Harbour porpoise are also seen close inshore throughout the winter months.

 The great thing about Bottlenose dolphins is they usually hang around in really big numbers, 100 is certainly not uncommon. They are also an incredibly active species and are often seen displaying a wide array of behaviour. All this activity creates plenty of disturbance and white water which can make them easy to spot. So remember the winter isn’t all grim and boring, keep looking out to sea and you might be lucky enough to see something magical. Please don’t forget to always report sightings to the website.

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