Dolphins recorded during marine survey

Posted on 3rd September 2014

Dolphins recorded during marine survey
A recent survey provided footage of white-beaked dolphins in the North Sea

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust was delighted to record some video footage of white-beaked dolphins during a marine survey this week, off the coast of Berwickshire.

What began as an uneventful survey 11km off the coast of Berwickshire this August, soon led to an exciting close encounter with a pod of white-beaked dolphins. Martin Kitching of MARINELife who led the survey reported that “seven-white beaked dolphins headed straight towards us. They began playing around and swimming in the waves created by the boat. These dolphins are truly such beautiful and playful animals.”

Over the past three years, North Sea Wildlife Trusts have commissioned dolphin and whale surveys off the north east coast of England. In particular these surveys have focussed on an area known as Farnes East.

Dr Leigh Howarth, Marine Advocacy Officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust commented: “In terms of the marine wildlife, Farnes East is an area of high importance. Our surveys in the area have shown that a large number of white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoise utilise this area. In addition it is known that minke, humpback and even killer whales are found within the region.

“The glacial channels surrounding Farnes East make it one the deepest areas in the North Sea. Due to the steep walls of the channel, upwelling occurs which brings nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, supporting many fish and shellfish. Consequently, populations of white-beaked dolphins rely on the area for feeding and breeding.”

Farnes East is one of seven areas in the English North Sea recommended to the
Government to be designated as a Marine Conservation Zone, or MCZ. The recommendation was based on data that highlighted the area comprised of a mosaic of habitats, including rock, mixed and coarse sediment sand, mud and patches of peat and clay. As well as providing important habitat for whales and dolphins, the area also supports the highest number of wintering birds out of all the potential MCZs located in the North Sea, including breeding colonies of guillemots, razorbills, little auks and puffins.

“If Farnes East is designated as an MCZ, it will help protect the whales, dolphins and seabirds that rely on this vitally important area” concluded Martin Kitching of MARINELife.

MCZs are a similar concept to nature reserves at sea. Within these areas sustainable use of the sea is encouraged, so that wildlife can continue thrive and recover in areas where damaging practices have caused declines. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is asking people to support them in their call to the Government to make Farnes East and other important marine areas MCZs; to find out more about MCZs or join them in this plea sign up as a Friend of MCZs by visiting www.wildlifetrusts.org/mcz.

For more information on further work being undertaken by The Wildlife Trusts in the North Sea, please see www.northseawildlife.org.uk.