By Sarah Ward
Living Seas Officer
Whilst we’re now wrapping up warm and cosying up for the winter months much of our marine wildlife is doing a similar thing. Many marine species flourish over the summer months but will die back or retreat to deeper waters over winter.
It’s always exciting to see a cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises), and they are around year-round, but this summer seems to have been a bit of a ‘bumper’ year for sightings! The summer tends to be a busier time for these animals: the visibility is better, people are spending more time at the coast and at sea, and most importantly there’s an increase in ‘bait fish’ which they follow into the shallower waters. Most commonly spotted here in Sussex are bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and harbour porpoises. This summer saw the launch of the Brighton Dolphin Project, hosted by the World Cetacean Alliance, who are on a mission to teach residents and visitors of the Brighton area all about the amazing marine mammals which live in the sea just off our coast. They have also been collecting sightings information and have been really pleased that there has been a good number of sightings this year. So far this year, there have been 10 bottlenose dolphin sightings, three common dolphin sightings, one harbour porpoise sighting, and four sightings of unidentified cetacean species.
Bottlenose dolphins in particular tend to be sighted in groups, with one of the aforementioned sightings being estimated as a pod of 20-40 individuals. This species tend to be active and curious; they are often seen riding in the wake around boats and are capable of some remarkable acrobatics!
If you’re lucky enough to see any cetaceans, don’t forget to report your sightings! The Brighton Dolphin Project are keen to receive local sightings information and you can also tell us what you’ve seen. You can also find a list of organisations to get in touch with should you ever come across a stranding on The Wildlife Trusts’ website.