NEW QUAY Sea Watch Foundation witnessed a rare siting of a bottlenose dolphin calf feeding from its mother last Thursday (Aug 4) offering an exciting opportunity for the UK-wide research charity to widen their knowledge of Cardigan Bay’s dolphin inhabitants.
Volunteers begin their shift at 7am and work through to 9pm when the light and weather conditions allow. Sonia, of the research charity, begun her shift on Thursday (Aug 4) and was welcomed by a collection of six dolphins, including a tiny newborn calf.
Although it is not uncommon for the bay’s bottlenose dolphins to appear very close to the harbour wall in New Quay, this occasion was extraordinary as six appeared seemingly out of nowhere and to Sonia’s astonishment, one was a tiny newborn dolphin calf.
On occasion, bottlenose dolphins do use the sheltered waters of Cardigan Bay to have their young. However, Sonia was overjoyed to witness the rare site of the youngster feeding from its mother.
Dolphins, along with whales and porpoises (collectively termed cetaceans), are mammals and produce milk which they feed to their young.
Sonia, Research Assistant for the charity this summer, described the event, stating: “I didn’t know where to look! There was so much happening all at the same time and I could not believe that I had the opportunity to witness a newborn calf being fed.”
Aside from the opportunity to see this special behaviour, there were also four other dolphins in the mix, including ‘Berry’ and her calf, ’Pip’.
Scientists are able to identify individual dolphins by photographing their dorsal fins. Over time, the fins build up nicks and notches which are unique to each animal, similar to a finger print in humans.
Once an animal is photographed and identified, its life history can be determined; which habitats does it prefer, which months is it seen, where does it travel to, how old is it, does it have any young?
Pip was named last year by the public who took part in a naming competition both online and from the pier in New Quay. With three youngsters having been seen in the past couple of weeks, the foundation will be again offering the opportunity to name one of these youngsters.
Using the photo-identification technique, the charity is able to offer an ‘Adopt a Dolphin’ scheme which offers adoptees the chance to follow the fortunes of real wild bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay. The charity is reliant on the scheme for funding, which directly contributes to the well-being of Cardigan Bay dolphins.
Two new calves had been previously spotted in the bay, the first of which was witnessed during a Sea Watch all day survey on July 30, during which its mother was identified as ‘Trouble’ who has been followed by the team of researchers since 1989.
The other calf was photographed by the staff on board Dolphin Spotting Boat Trips on August 3 and the researchers will be working with the boat company to identify the individual’s mother in order to calculate just how many baby dolphins there are in the bay.
Christmas gift fair returns
NEXT Friday (Oct 20), the annual craft and gifts extravaganza will return to Aberystwyth Arts Centre to get the locals in the mood for Christmas.
The Winter Craft & Gift Fair is sure to get visitors feeling festive in the run up to Christmas with over 80 stalls selling a wonderful array of crafts and gifts, many produced by local makers from Ceredigion and mid Wales.
This year will feature many regular stalls, as well as some who will be selling at the fair for the first time, so prepare to discover the unusual and unexpected at this year’s fair with it’s new layout and products for 2017.
The fair will be open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday and 12 to 5.30pm on Sundays all the way up until December 23.
On Saturday, November 25, the Arts Centre’s Christmas Food Fair will take over the Great Hall for the day. There will be the very best of Welsh produce with cheese, meats, fish, wine, cider, pastries, puddings, jams and much, much more from many local producers. The Food Fair is the perfect place to stock up on a few gastronomic goodies in the run up to Christmas. There will also be live musical entertainment to get you in the Christmassy mood! The fair will be on 10am-4pm and entry is free!
‘It’s ok to say’
ON WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, farmers across Wales are being reminded that ‘it’s ok to say’ and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging them not to hide problems from themselves, their families and friends and to talk about their personal feelings.
The FUW made a commitment at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in July to continue raising awareness of mental health problems in rural communities and is therefore renewing the call for those who might be suffering from mental health problems to seek help.
“The focus of this year’s World Mental Health day is on mental health in the workplace and farms are just that. In our places of work we’ve faced some pretty low-points in the last few years. Bovine TB, price volatility and uncertainty about our future post-Brexit, this all puts a strain on our resolve and will have many feeling stressed and under immense pressure,” said Union President Glyn Roberts.
“But we must break the stigma attached to mental health, so if you’re feeling vulnerable, please open-up and speak to someone. That doesn’t just mean today, but always. Farmers and farming families need to continue talking openly about what they are experiencing and the FUW strongly encourages anyone who is worried about their own mental health or a loved-one, to seek help from the Farming Community Network, Tir Dewi, The DPJ Foundation, Mind Cymru or Call Helpline Wales,” added Glyn Roberts.
Scholarship scheme funds student’s Masters
A TALYBONT native is one of just 28 people in the UK to be awarded a scholarship granted by energy company ScottishPower.
Stella Foster, 32, gratefully received the grant from the Scottish Power Foundation for the 2017/18 academic year.
Having just completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of York, Stella will begin her Masters in Environmental Sciences this week at the University of East Anglia. Environmental science degrees integrate biology, physical science and information sciences to examine environmental systems (air, water, etc.) and how they interact.
The sought-after scholarship covers full enrolment costs as well as a living allowance. On top of this, the scholars will receive unique opportunities including meeting leading industry professionals.
“Travelling around the world and living in China before I started my undergraduate studies made me aware of the astounding change of pace in urbanisation; the two-hour bus ride from where I lived to Shanghai, there wasn’t a moment where you couldn’t see a construction site,” Stella said.
“This fast and dramatic development creates issues with the environment, and I’m really excited to learn about the creative and fascinating solutions out there, and hopefully come up with some of my own,” she added.
Since it was launched in 2010, the ScottishPower Foundation scholarships programme has provided £1.5m in grants towards training the next generation in their chosen field.
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