Dolphin spotting

First published in Letters by

I WAS interested to read your article in last weeks issue of the Penarth Times concerning the sighting off Lavernock Point of a Dolphin/Porpoise by a local couple out for walk (Was there a dolphin off the coast of Lavernock Point? page 13).

We at the National Coastwatch Institution carry out daily surveillance, out to sea and along the coast line. Our primary duty as a partner in the UK Search and Rescue family is to Spot, Plot and Report to the Her Majesties Coastguard, any person or vessel who may be in difficulty.

We have 50 lookout stations situated at strategic locations along the coastlines of England and Wales, manned by trained volunteers who keep a daily vigil 365 days of the year. Whilst carrying out this very important remit, we do from time to time observe many other things, mainly some form of flotsam or jetsam, but on other occasions we do observe sea mammals including cetaceans.

Our main partner, as I have mentioned is the HMCG, but we work closely with many other agencies including animal and wildlife organisations. If for example we were to observe a sea bird or young seal in distress, then we report the matter to the relevant organisation.

You are probably aware that we have a local National Coastwatch Station along the Bristol Channel, situated at Nell's Point, Barry Island. On Friday last, August 15, I and my fellow watchkeeper Bill Gill were on watch at our station when we observed a Dolphin/ Porpoise just off the station, about 50 meters from shore, between our station and the entrance to Jacksons Bay. From experience and from what I have read about these wonderful creatures I suspect what we observed was a Porpoise, possibly feeding at what was high water at that particular time.

The creature was moving westwards and was visible for approximately 30 seconds before diving for the last time and disappearing from our view.

We make a log entry of every vessel that passes our station and in these circumstances we make a separate entry in our own wildlife book and report the sighting to a local cetacean organisation.

From time to time we observe these creatures as do many of our other stations around the country. At Nell's Point we have on occasions spotted a seal who visits this area and in the past we have observed both dolphins and porpoises albeit these sightings are rare.

There was only a slight breeze on the day and sea conditions were calm. Visibility was good so sightings are more easily made when such conditions are present.

Our watchkeepers are trained to keep a strict watch for people or vessels that may require assistance or urgent rescue. This is our day-to-day routine, so when we do observe any of these mammals, it certainly makes the watch even more enjoyable and worthwhile.

It was interesting to read your article and as a result I thought you might be interested in our sighting.

Regards

Terry Ewington

Station Manager

National Coastwatch Station

Nell's Point, Barry Island.

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