Day 1: A dolphin delight
– log entry by Nadia Frontier, BSc Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology (third year)
The second round of summer 2019 surveys aboard Take the Helm was launched on a very sunny day in Plymouth.
With blue skies overhead and zero per cent cloud cover, a team of smiling faces climbed on board to commence a survey of the South West coastal waters for marine mammals. Our goal was to conduct a series of line transect surveys to gather baseline data about species abundances, distributions and their behaviour.
Within two hours we saw our first sighting – erupting through the water was a group of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). We could not take our eyes off them as they swam to the stern of the boat. To our delight, we witnessed the group doing full leaps out of the water and 'fluke up' behaviour, which is indicative of socialising.
Later on, through the roll of a wave, two porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were sighted – their small bodies and blunt tip dorsal fin unmistakably characteristic.
Over the next two hours we were blessed with further dolphin sightings. One group was particularly attracted to our boat, which became a perfect opportunity to appreciate their speed and agility and to photograph their sleek streamlined bodies breaking the water.
In the moment, I realised how lucky I am to have a digital camera to capture these events, remembering my lecturers recounting the pain of developing film camera roll to yield only photos of the sea.