Monday, 22 July 2013

White-beaked Dolphins in the North East

Regular readers of our news page will be familiar with the occasional 'Cetacean News' messages that appear among the bird news now and again. While many of the reports often emanate from far flung islands and headlands, mid-summer can produce a flurry of activity along the east coast and this year has been no exception.

Minke Whales have featured heavily in recent weeks with up to a dozen individuals seen from Filey Brigg with others at Beadnell, Whitburn and off The Farnes. Northumberland and Durham have also had one or more prominent groups of White-beaked Dolphins showing very well to seawatchers at Whitburn, Seaton Sluice, Newbiggin and into Druridge Bay.

Adult White-beaked Dolphins are surprisingly large and occasionally responsible for reports of 'Killer Whales' in the North Sea from those unfamiliar with cetacean identification as a result of their size and prominent dorsal fins. The tall (but nowhere near as tall as in Killer Whale) falcate dorsal fin combined with the white/grey pale stripe running along the side of the body should however mark this species out in the North Sea.

Calm seas obviously make for better viewing and current sea conditions are very good for viewing along much of the east coast. White-beaked Dolphins can cover a large distance very rapidly and when feeding can come fairly close inshore and as can be seen in the phone-scoped videos below, taken over the last couple of days from Newbiggin, Northumberland, they are often acrobatic.

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