Cardigan Bay dolphins ‘sent north’ by water sports noise

Speedboats and water bikes using Cardigan Bay may be driving its famous dolphins over a hundred miles north to quieter waters, experts have warned. Bottlenose dolphins usually spend the summer months in the sea off Ceredigion before heading to north Wales and the Isle of Man for winter. But research suggests they are spending less time in Cardigan Bay and noisy water sports could be partly to blame. The Sea Watch Foundation has called for better protection for the mammals.

Cardigan Bay has the largest population of bottlenose dolphins in the UK and as a tourist attraction they are important to the economy.

While the dolphin population in the area has remained unchanged in recent years – there are usually between 300 to 350 – marine experts say they have noticed a change in their behaviour.

Daphna Feingold, Sea Watch Foundation’s monitoring officer in Cardigan Bay, said that while other factors could be at play, such as changes in fish stock, prey and pollution, there was concern that an increase in recreational boat use was having an effect.

“We know that the dolphins use the waters around Anglesey and the Isle of Man in the winter months, usually between October and March or April,” she said.

“But in the past two to three years we have seen the dolphins using these more northern waters in some of the summer months too.”

“It’s not that they’re moving away from Cardigan Bay entirely but they are using the area differently.”

She said there were other changes to the dolphins which suggested they were being affected by an increase in water sports.

Research has shown they are clubbing together in large groups more and whistling louder to communicate – behaviour which is typical of the mammals in noisy waters.

 

Full story by Gemma Ryall: BBC

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