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Strumble Head: Sea Watch Foundation reports ‘killer whale’ sighting

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Impressive sight: Killer whale (Stock photo)

Impressive sight: Killer whale (Stock photo)

LAST SATURDAY, an unusual marine mammal was spotted off Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire, according to the Sea Watch Foundation. According to their website, one of their observers, Caroline Webb, reported her sighting to the organisation, which holds the UK database for sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Initially thought to be a squid-eating Risso’s dolphin, there was something about the description of the animal that didn’t ring true; it was seen devouring a seal pup!

Caroline Webb said: “There was a struggle going on and a pool of blood was spreading on the surface of the water. It had the rounded blunt head of a Risso’s dolphin but the whole thing appeared to be dark and not pale. We saw the head clearly when it came out of the water to go for the seagulls. It was near a bay where a baby seal was known to have been lying, about half a mile east of Strumble Head.”

According to the SWF,  killer whales are known to visit the Irish Sea occasionally and have been seen off the coast of Wales on a number of occasions although sighting reports attributed to the species are often unconfirmed. Those that were confirmed include four killer whales seen off Bardsey Island in June 2013, a solitary animal recorded from the ferry between Dublin and Holyhead in May 2012, and six killer whales seen travelling north off South Stack, Anglesey in August 2011. There was also an unverified report of a killer whale off nearby Mwnt, in Ceredigion, back in July. However, most Welsh sightings have been west of Pembrokeshire in the waters referred to as the Celtic Deep.

Dr Peter Evans, Sea Watch’s Director, told The Herald: “Essentially, the size of the whale, the shape of its head and description of its fin, along with the observation of an actual seal attack make it difficult to attribute the sighting to anything else other than killer whale.”

Dr Evans added: “One might have expected the white oval patch behind the eye to have been seen but at a distance in dull light, this can easily go unnoticed. Since the fin was described as recurved rather than erect and triangular, it was probably either an immature male or adult female.”

“We don’t know very much about the movements of killer whales (or orcas as we prefer to call them) on the west coast of Britain. Members of a pod that has numbered up to fourteen can be seen annually around the Hebrides of west Scotland, mainly in summer. The most famous of these is a mature male nicknamed “John Coe” that we have observed since at least 1980.  It has a distinct nick towards the base of the dorsal fin making it instantly recognisable (and recently gained a chunk out of its tail, possibly a shark bite). Sightings of John Coe have ranged from the Hebrides over to East Scotland, south to the northwest coast of Ireland and well  into the Irish Sea off West Wales – a true wanderer,”

Kathy explained that the sighting could not be verified. She explained: “So although we couldn’t give Caroline a 100% definite ID for the animal she witnessed, everything she told us leads us to believe it was a killer whale feeding off Strumble Head.”

Kathy added: “This is really exciting news for wildlife enthusiasts and I would urge them to take to the headlands of West Wales these coming days to see if they can catch up with the animal. If people do see this or any other whale, dolphin or porpoise, they should report them to Sea Watch. All the information we can gather about these majestic animals allows us to protect and conserve them gong forwards”

 

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New Quay RNLI lifeboat crew trains with lifeguards

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NEW QUAY lifeboat station hosted a special training evening with the lifeboat crew and Ceredigion’s RNLI lifeguards last week.

Pete Yates, one of New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat helms, worked closely with Ceredigion lifeguard supervisor, Tirion Dowsett, to plan scenarios for the teams to practice working together in casualty care situations.

A large scale scenario included four casualties to be dealt with by the inshore lifeboat crew and two lifeguard teams on a nearby beach, whilst a third lifeguard team and lifeboat crew members dealt with a separate scenario at the lifeboat station.

Pete said: “It was a great evening of training. We had 9 lifeguards and 13 lifeboat crew in attendance.

“The main scenario included casualties suffering from hypothermia and propeller injuries. A second scenario involved a mechanic suffering head injuries in the forepeak of the all-weather lifeboat and requiring extraction on a stretcher.

“On completion of these scenarios we all gathered back at the station where one of our senior crew members sprung a great act at being a diabetic having a hypo, and being suitably angry and aggressive.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, added: “It was great for our lifeboat crew members to work with the lifeguards as it builds a deeper understanding of each other’s roles and encourages teamwork between us. This is of great benefit when dealing with real life casualty care situations.”

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Coastguard rescues dog stuck on cliffs

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LAST TUESDAY (Aug 27), New Quay RNLI’s inshore D-class lifeboat, Audrey LJ, was tasked by Milford Haven Coastguard to assist the Coastguard with a dog stuck on the cliffs near New Quay.

The volunteer crew launched the inshore lifeboat at 1.50pm with four crew members on board and made their way south down the coast.

Brett Stones, New Quay RNLI’s helm said: “We located the dog on the cliffs by Castell Bach, near Cwmtydu. We stood by while the Coastguard team caught the animal. The dog was unharmed and safe with the Coastguard so we were stood down.

“However, while returning to station we were then tasked to a small vessel with engine failure. We towed the stricken boat with three people on board back to New Quay. We rehoused the inshore lifeboat and it was ready for service by 2.40pm.”

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New maintenance Lorries cut carbon emissions

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The Ground Maintenance Team has purchased three new lorries to support ground maintenance services in Ceredigion.

The new lorries will move Ceredigion County Council’s Ground Maintenance Service’s equipment to and from the grounds that they look after. The lorries will also take cut grass away for composting. This provides the most efficient way of maintaining the areas that the team is responsible for.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “The new vehicles replace ones which had provided excellent service for almost 20 years. They are fitted with Euro 6 engines which are considerably more efficient and better for the environment.”

The Grounds Maintenance Team is also incrementally introducing electric-powered mowers, blowers, hedge cutters and strimmers into its fleet. This equipment is better for the environment, is easier to use and causes less noise and vibration.

The new lorries support Ceredigion County Council’s commitment to be a net-zero carbon council by 2030.

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