Memorable marine moments | Daily News


Memorable marine moments

Bottlenose dolphin sightings
Bottlenose dolphin sightings

‘Thrilling’ bottlenose dolphin sightings and a commuting seal are among the most memorable moments from the UK’s coasts this year, according to the Wildlife Trusts.

The Trusts’ review of the UK’s marine habitats revealed that thousands volunteered to help the seas this year amid growing concerns over climate change and pollution.

Forty-one new marine conservation zones were also announced around England in 2019, the Wildlife Trusts noted.

However, the UK’s waters are still at risk from invasive species and increasing amounts of plastic pollution, experts warned.

The Wildlife Trusts organised 450 beach cleanings, during which — in one example — the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust cleared 2.5 tonnes of rubbish from their coastlines.

‘2019 saw a sea-change in people’s attitudes,’ said Joan Edwards, the Wildlife Trusts’ director of living seas. ‘The extent of the nature and climate emergency is becoming increasingly clear.’ ‘More people than ever are volunteering to be citizen scientists and conducting important surveys or taking action to tackle the profound problems of marine litter and plastic pollution.’

For example, one such project saw citizen scientists trained to record sightings of dolphins, porpoises and whales off of the Yorkshire coast, with 320 individual observations ultimately documented.

From photographs, researchers also identified a pod of bottlenose dolphins that had journeyed from Scotland down to Yorkshire’s Flamborough Head. That was the furthest south that this group has been officially spotted. ‘It’s likely the bottlenose dolphins came south following shoals of fish; it’s thrilling to see playful dolphins and ocean giants like whales,’ said North Sea Wildlife Trusts’ marine advocacy officer Bex Lynam.

‘Ten years ago, seeing a bottlenose dolphin off the Yorkshire coast would have been rare.’

‘We need to collect more data about how and why they are using these waters if we are to better protect them.’

Meanwhile, a seal was spotted commuting back and forth between the Isle of Man and Cornwall - a round trip of some 550 miles (880 kilometres) in length.Photographs sent by the Manx Wildlife Trust to the Cornwall Seal Group revealed that the marine mammal - dubbed ‘Tulip Belle’ - has visited the south west coast regularly since 2001, returning to the Calf of Man every couple of years to have pups.

The observations revealed for the first time just how far seals will travel in order to find both food and a safe place to have their pups. Elsewhere, the Alderney Wildlife Trust donated seeds for new seagrass meadows - which serve as both an important habitat and carbon store - off of the Welsh coast. The Essex Wildlife Trust, meanwhile, saw success with an emerging area of salt marsh at Fingringhoe Wick - following a planned breach in the sea wall five years ago - with fish, waders and other birds making it their home.

The UK’s salt marshes have declined in size by 85 per cent over the past century, but are important not only for wildlife but also as a form of coastal protection against flooding and their role as a carbon store.

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