On Saturday 16th November, over 50 Cornwall Wildlife Trust marine volunteers met at Cornwall College, Newquay for an inspirational day of talks to celebrate the marine conservation work happening around the county at its annual Seaquest Southwest Conference.
From basking sharks to underwater corals, Cornwall is home to a huge variety of marine life, all of which is monitored via the Trust’s LivingSeas projects. One such LivingSeas project is the Seaquest Southwest, which has been running for over 10 years in the county and aims to record public sightings of marine life in Cornwall and use that information to better conserve the animals that live there. In addition to that, Seaquest Southwest also supports hundreds of keen volunteers who go out and do marine surveys of our sea life around our coastline looking for animals such as porpoise, whales and our rare, residential bottlenose dolphins.
Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust and organiser of the conference says,
‘The Seaquest Southwest conference is an annual event and a chance to pull together these fantastic volunteers and talk about all the brilliant marine recording going on around the county thanks to their hard work’.
Volunteers listened to talks about the dive surveys and rocky shore recording, plus saw the results of their 2013 marine survey sightings which showed 2013 to be a busy year at sea with hundreds of common dolphins spotted offshore in large pods and a record breaking numbers of sunfish visiting in the summer months.
‘Cornwall Wildlife Trust was able to organise the conference thanks to the support from Cornwall College Newquay, who provided a perfect venue for the event and even bought us biscuits for the break times! Thanks to them, our volunteers enjoyed an interesting and inspirational day.’
Rebecca Allen, programme manager for the Marine Conservation course at Cornwall College, Newquay says,
‘It’s a great pleasure for the college to support the wildlife trust by hosting an event like this and it also creates a wonderful opportunity for our students to get more involved in their work’.
Anybody and everybody are welcome to get involved in Seaquest Southwest. For more information please email Seaquest@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk or check out the Trust’s Living Seas work on the website www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/livingseas .
Stranded dolphin rescued from muddy inlet
At around 11:40 on Friday 16 February, a lone common dolphin was reported to British Divers Marine Life Rescue circling in the shallows in an inlet at Place, near Portscatho, in Cornwall. A couple of volunteer Marine Mammal Medics were sent down initially to monitor the animal in hope it would be able to get away by itself, and further assess the situation.
After an hour and a half or so of observation, the risk of stranding increased significantly as the tide went out as the inlet is very shallow, muddy and almost completely dries out over low tide. Therefore, a larger response team was dispatched with more equipment in preparation for a stranding. Indeed, the animal did soon strand in the mud and fell onto its side, submerging the blowhole. Luckily the team were on hand to help get it upright again quickly, then bring it ashore for a health assessment and to begin providing first aid. No obvious injuries could be found and it measured 2.03m, later confirmed as female.
The team were soon joined by two vets, who were able to confirm the animal to be in moderate nutritional condition and appeared otherwise okay following a more detailed health check, and so was suitable for the team to attempt to refloat. However, it was not possible to refloat it safely in the inlet due to the nature of the geography, substrate and tide there it seemed the most likely reason this dolphin had stranded was due to getting disoriented in this location, and would struggle to get out again. Luckily a local resident had his boat tender moored nearby and was happy to use it a transport craft to take the dolphin out to deeper water.
With help, the boat was slid across the mud and launched near the mouth of the inlet. A surfboard was placed on one side with a soft mat on top for the dolphin to lie comfortably on during the journey. When ready, the dolphin was carried across in a tarpaulin, transferred to a mesh stretcher and loaded on board with a team of four Medics including a vet.
The boat then carefully made its way out to the mouth of the Percuil River, facing into Carrick Roads and close to open sea, which was the most ideal site for release where the chance of returning and re-stranding was lower. The dolphin was carefully hauled overboard in the stretcher and held alongside briefly, though as she started kicking strongly almost straight away it was hard to keep hold and so she was released quickly. The boat retreated and the team observed her circling in the middle of the channel until she was lost from sight. The team returned to the inlet before darkness fell.
The area will be monitored over the weekend for re-sightings or re-strandings, but it is hoped that she will recover successfully and continue back out to sea. In the meantime BDMLR would like to thank the volunteer team, local residents and members of the public for all their efforts and support throughout this incident.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue is an international marine animal rescue organisation based in the UK and is a registered charity. The aims of the organisation are to provide a rescue service for marine wildlife, to support existing rehabilitation centres and to develop new methods of rescue, treatment, transport and care. Website www.bdmlr.org.uk.
Photos: Dan Jarvis
Mother of Corals Announces Ambassador Program
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