2019 ends on a positive note for some marine species living in British waters, with record number of sightings of whales dolphins and seals being reported.
The Wildlife Trusts, which comprises 46 individual wildlife trusts around the country, reports record numbers of more than 800 sightings of whales, dolphins and seals in the waters of the United Kingdom in 2019.
Its Yorkshire project reported hundreds of individual sightings by trained citizen scientists. Among these were a pod of bottlenose dolphins making their way from Scotland to Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire-the farthest south they had been officially identified.
According to Bex Lynam, North Sea Wildlife Trusts' marine advocacy officer, spotting a bottlenose dolphin off the Yorkshire coast ten years ago was rare. On the latest sightings, she said that it was possible the pod of bottlenose dolphins had been following shoals of fish.
"We need to collect more data about how and why they are using these waters if we are to better protect them," she added.
Minke whales were also spotted feeding off Staithes, in North Yorkshire.
In addition, it has been discovered that a seal, nicknamed Tulip Belle, has been visiting the South West (at Cornwall) and then travelling all the way to the Calf of Man to have her pups every couple of years. Sightings of this “commute” have been recorded since 2001.
The revelation was made when the Manx Wildlife Trust sent their photographs of the seal to the Cornwall Seal Group. “We knew that seals travel within the Irish Sea, but we had no idea that they would go as far as Cornwall. When I sent our Manx seal photos to the Cornwall Seal Group, it was a bit of a long shot and we were all surprised that we found a match,” said Lara Howe, a marine officer at Manx Wildlife Trust.
“It shows that seals will swim great distances for food and a place to pup, highlighting the importance of a network of marine protected areas around the UK, so that wherever marine wildlife goes there are healthy seas to support them,” she added.