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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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Tregaron: Spider landed on driver before fatal crash

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A SPIDER landing on a woman’s hand caused a car crash which resulted in the death of her 11-year-old son, an inquest heard.

Tristan Silver was being driven to school by his mother Cloud Younger alongside his sister Branwen on May 4 2018, when the crash occurred near Tregaron.

The inquest in Aberystwyth on Wednesday (Jun 19) heard that the blue Subaru Legacy estate car drifted on to the wrong side of the A485 and hit a black Mitsubishi Shogun towing a trailer.

Farmer David Glyndwr Jones had loaded 60 lambs into the trailer before setting off for a market in Builth Wells with his wife. Around 8.45am Mr and Mrs Jones saw the Subaru driving towards them, and having seen that the vehicle was not slowing down, Mr Jones decided to pull his car into the verge and brace for impact.

When the cars met head-on, Mr and Mrs Jones, Mrs Younger and her daughter were left with minor injuries, but Tristan suffered serious head injuries. He was airlifted to hospital in Cardiff where he was pronounced dead.

After an interview with the police in June 2018, where Mrs Younger answered ‘no comment’ to each question, a prepared statement to police later explained that a spider had landed on her left hand as she was driving. This caused eight-year-old Branwen to start screaming, and Mrs Younger then tried to calm her daughter down, whilst continuing to drive.

The statement said that the Subaru had recently passed its MOT and all three people in the car were wearing seat belts. The inquest heard that the speed of the vehicle at the point of impact could not be ascertained, but Mr Jones said that his car was nearly at a standstill at the time of the crash.

Ceredigion Coroner Peter Brunton recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

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Plaid Cymru Cardigan hold event to support local initiatives

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MP Ben Lake led the evening

THE CARDIGAN plaid Cymru branch held a successful evening at the Fisherman’s Rest, Cardigan on Friday June 14 2019 to help share information and the experiences of local community benefit groups, as well as grant opportunities available to support such initiatives.

The evening was led by County Councillor Clive Davies and Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, Ben Lake. During the evening a presentation was given on far-reaching grant opportunities available for such community groups – drawing from examples of societies and community enterprises created in Cardigan over the last 5 years – and how they got started, grew from strength to strength, and received funding to achieve and support their objectives.

Following the meeting, Cllr Clive Davies said: “The success of local initiatives and groups have played a key role in Cardigan’s success as a vibrant market town over recent years. I welcomed the opportunity to further raise awareness of the opportunities and avenues of support available to such groups and enterprises to help them to continue to make an invaluable contribution to the town and local area.”

Ben Lake MP added: “Cardigan boasts a successful array of lively community projects and small businesses that have brought an added vigour to both the town and Ceredigion as a whole. It was useful to have the opportunity to discuss the challenges these groups face, as well as share information regarding the wide array of support and funding available to support and maintain their important work”.

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Ben Lake MP pledges support for advancing MS research

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BEN LAKE MP for Ceredigion has shown his support for investment in MS research, after visiting an exhibition by the MS Society in Parliament this week.

The exhibition, ‘Multiple Sclerosis – The Research Story’, gave parliamentarians the opportunity to hear from people living with MS and leading MS researchers around the UK. It featured personal objects from the MS community, representing what it’s like to live with the condition, alongside the latest developments in cutting-edge research.

Ben Lake, MP said: “I am delighted to have attended the MS Society’s parliamentary exhibit and see first-hand how close we are to stopping MS”

“MS is an unpredictable and challenging condition, which can be painful and exhausting. I want to see investment in this area of research continue to rise so everyone living with MS in Ceredigion and across the UK has access to effective treatments.”

Over the past 20 years MS research has led to major advances, including more than a dozen licensed treatments for people with the relapsing form of MS. But more investment is needed to find more, and better, treatments for everyone – including ones that can slow or stop MS from progressing.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at the MS Society, said: “We’re really grateful Ben Lake MP has pledged their support for our work. More than 100,000 people live with MS in the UK and many are still left without treatment options that slow or stop progression. But we are at a turning point in MS research and the UK is at the forefront of this. We are closer than ever before to having treatments for everyone with MS, and stopping MS for good.”

The MS Society is the UK’s leading not-for-profit funder of MS research and is currently supporting over 70 active projects worth more than £20 million. To find out more about the MS Society and the vital research it is funding visit www.mssociety.org.uk

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