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The first and only resident pod of bottlenose dolphins in England has been discovered. Composed of 28 individual dolphins, the pod was mainly seen in Cornwall, specifically around St. Ives Bay and Mount’s Bay. This group of bottlenose dolphins was also occasionally spotted in Devon and Dorset.
Researchers made the announcement in December 2017, after studying a compilation of over 3,000 of images and sightings of dolphins in the South-west. These adorable cetaceans were identified through their dorsal fin. Just like human fingers, the dorsal fin of bottlenose dolphins bears a unique shape and markings. The fin’s trailing edge, in particular, has distinctive, permanent notches brought about by tearing of the tissue.
Sightings of dolphins are fairly common in the UK, especially in places like Lundy Island. In fact, there are two other populations of bottlenose dolphins in the country. One group is found in Cardigan Bay in Wales and another pod resides in Moray Firth in Scotland. Other cetaceans like porpoises and whales are also found in UK waters.
Researchers and conservationists are excited about the discovery of this latest pod of dolphins in Cornwall. They are also optimistic that the confirmation of the existence of resident bottlenose dolphins in the area will usher in changes when it comes to the protection of these marine mammals in the south-west coast.
Dolphins constantly face numerous threats like getting injured because of fishing gears. They are also suffering because of plastic and chemical pollution. Dolphins in the south-west confront the same threats. This is why, concerned organisations are hoping that the area where this newly discovered pod of bottlenose dolphins resides become a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).
If the area gets a SAC status, measures that will help preserve the place and its resident species will be implemented. Currently, the two other resident bottlenose dolphins in the UK are already protected since Cardigan Bay and Moray Firth are declared as SAC. Hopefully, the South-west bottlenose dolphins get the same protection very soon.
Photo by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith