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Rare whale found on south Wales beach

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Northern bottlenose whale carcass on Sker beach in Bridgend, showing distinctive bulbous forehead and long beak. Photo by Fay Lorraine Phillips/ Sea Watch Foundation.

Northern bottlenose whale carcass on Sker beach in Bridgend, showing distinctive bulbous forehead and long beak.(Pic. by Fay Lorraine Phillips / Sea Watch Foundation)

THE SEA WATCH FOUNDATION were “flabbergasted” to see photos of a dead Northern bottlenose whale that had washed up on Sker veach near Porthcawl in Bridgend on Sunday (Sep 11).

The photographs were sent by Neil Bright and his girlfriend Fay Lorraine Phillips, who discovered the animal as they walked their dog.

The species can usually be found in deep ocean trenches and is usually only seen in British waters off the north-west coast of Scotland.

The images were immediately forwarded to the marine mammal strandings coordinator for Wales, Rod Penrose, who was able to confirm that he’d already attended the animal which was a 5.3m long northern bottlenose whale and had taken samples for DNA testing.

“Due to the state of decomposition together with extensive scavenger damage of the carcass I was unable to determine the cause of death” stated Rod.

bottlenose whales from above. Photo by S Hooker/ Sea Watch Foundation

bottlenose whales from above. (pic. S Hooker/ Sea Watch Foundation)

“This is the third record for Wales, the first was a 6.7m live stranding in Tenby, Pembrokeshire in August 1996 which was luckily persuaded to swim away, the second was a 6.21m female in slight decomposition which stranded at Prestatyn, Denbighshire in October 2009.”

Kathy James, Sightings Officer for Sea Watch Foundation, said: “Northern bottlenose whales have extremely bulbous heads with a protruding ‘bottle-shaped’ beak similar to that of a bottlenose dolphin

“These animals are much larger than their dolphin counterparts measuring up to 10m in length in males. It is thought that this individual is a juvenile as we’d expect an adult to be a minimum of 7.5m”

The most famous bottlenose whale is the ‘Thames Whale’ which found its way into the River Thames in London ten years ago. This disorientated individual was found to be a female measuring 5.85m and died following a failed rescue attempt. In January the whale was commemorated with a march from the Natural History Museum (where its bones are displayed) to Battersea park beach where she stranded.

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Another man charged in Ifan Owens assault case

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Ifan Owens: Seriously assaulted in January

ANOTHER man has been charged and remanded into custody in relation to the serious assault of Ifan Owens, aged 19, in Aberystwyth on January 14.

Michael Arwyn Jones, 24, has been charged with S18 Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent and Possession of Cannabis.

Last week, Billy Valentine, 19, of Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, and David Lloyd, 25, of no fixed abode, entered no pleas when they appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court.

The pair were sent to trial at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am.

Due to the serious nature of the offence, Lloyd’s bail was revoked.

The court found there was a real risk he would abscond or re-offend.

As well as being charged with grievous bodily harm, he was also charged with having a blade exceeding 3 inches in a public place without good reason or lawful authority.

Valentine was also charged with being in possession of herbal cannabis as the time of his arrest. This was by Magistrates, who gave him a 12 month conditional discharge, and ordered him to pay £20 to fund the victims of crime, and £85 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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Consultation to launch today on future of health services in Ceredigion

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD are formally announcing the launch of their consultation at County Hall in Haverfordwest this morning (Apr 19).

The proposals, the Board say, will shape the future provision of health and care services to the general population.

These provisions will be ‘safe, viable and offer an improvement to what is currently provided’.

The Herald will be attending the event, which starts at 9:30am.

You can watch a live stream here.

The 12-week consultation, which is clinically-led, will involve a number of events for communities, both general and targeted, as well as an awareness raising campaign.

It is expected that the announcements will have big changes for Withbyush, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

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Issue of lifeboats raised to Prime Minister

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BEN LAKE MP made his Prime Minister’s Questions debut, raising the important issue of the future of Cardigan Bay’s lifeboat provision.

On Thursday (Apr 18) Mr Lake commended the valiant efforts of RNLI staff and volunteers at New Quay lifeboat station who have been safeguarding those who venture out into the bay, be it for work or pleasure, since 1864.

He also expressed concern at the possibility that there will no longer be an all-weather lifeboat in Ceredigion from 2020.

Mr Lake asked the Prime Minister whether she would agree ‘that the invaluable work of the RNLI serves as a fourth emergency service, and that as such it is essential the coastline of Ceredigion, like every other populated coastline, has access to this service whatever the weather?’

The Prime Minister responded: “Search and rescue at sea is provided by several organisations, including the coastguard and the RNLI. The RNLI has a proud tradition, and we should be grateful for its record on search and rescue at sea. It is obviously independent and decides where best to put its resources, but we are supporting the work of independent lifeboat charities through our Rescue Boat Grant Fund, which has allocated more than £3.5 million since 2014 to increase capacity and resilience by providing new boats and equipment.”

Ben Lake said: “I was glad of the opportunity to raise an issue that is of great concern to communities across Ceredigion with the Prime Minister. I look forward to working with the RNLI and campaign representatives in search of a long-term solution, and in particular seek to ascertain whether the Rescue Boat Grant Fund could be of benefit to ensuring the retention of an all-weather lifeboat at New Quay.”

The RNLI has decided to downgrade New Quay Lifeboat Station to an Inshore Lifeboat when the service life of its Mersey-class All-Weather Lifeboat expires in 2020.

The proposed new lifeboat will not be able to launch in conditions exceeding Force 7 in the daytime or Force 6 at night.

After 2020, there will be no All-Weather Lifeboats in the whole of Ceredigion, leaving a gap of 70 miles between the All-Weather stations of Barmouth and Fishguard.

The latest generation of All-Weather Lifeboats can travel at 25 knots in 30 minutes in calm conditions. In a challenging sea, the nearest boats at Barmouth and Fishguard would take more than an hour and a half to respond to an emergency off New Quay or Aberaeron.

The mission statement of the RNLI reads: “Our crews aim to launch their lifeboats with 10 minutes of being notified and can operate up to 100 nautical miles out at sea. We aim to reach at least 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch – any weather.”

The Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign are questioning how local rescues can take place in a challenging sea to meet this aim of the RNLI. Over 10,000 have currently signed a petition campaigning against the proposed changes.

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