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Unusual whale species spotted

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screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-14-31-24A SERIES of unusual whale sightings caught the attention of scientists at marine mammal research facility, Sea Watch Foundation, this past week. 

Members of the public are encouraged by the organisation to report any sightings of dolphins, porpoises and whales across the UK. This usually leads to patterns of species being found in areas where they are expected, but there are occasionally exceptions to the rule, thanks to the nature of water-bound species. The recent sightings around Wales serve as an example of that.

The long-finned pilot whale is the species in question, well known due to the exploitation of the mammals during organised drives in the Faroe Islands. These ‘subsidence’ hunts take place annually, and many activists would like to see an end to them. Pilot whales observed in the Faroes may travel along the shelf edge to waters west of the British Isles and beyond, radio-tracking studies have shown.

Despite the fact that there are past records of pilot whales spotted around Wales, it remains an rather unusual occurrence, especially with sightings taking place at four different locations on four separate occasions.

The first sighting was made in the Central Irish Sea, 47 miles out from Aberdyfi in Gwynedd. On August 17, five pilot whales were spotted at this location by Charlie Bartlett, who has been venturing out to sea for 45 years. On Sunday, August 21, the second sighting was made off Eynon Point, Swansea, where a lone pilot whale was reported. On that very same day, a third sighting was reported. Two days later, near between Southerndown and Ogmore-by-Sea in Glamorgan, the final sighting was made. This time, eight animals were spotted by Sea Watch volunteer Keith Burgess. Keith couldn’t be certain of what he was watching at the time of the sighting (11am, Tuesday, August 23). The Sea Watch Foundation team discussed the matter, becoming confident that the animals were indeed long-finned pilot whales.

With so many similar reports from the same time – two of which have been verified – it is certainly plausible that a pod of these whales is moving around the Welsh coast at the moment.

Sightings Officer for Sea Watch Foundation, Kathy James, said: “We’d love people to get out there to look for these enigmatic whales and report any sightings to us. We encourage these ‘casual sightings’ through our website and also welcome people to take part in dedicated watches for whales, dolphins and porpoises around our coast.”

Dr Peter Evans, Director of Sea Watch Foundation, said: “Long-finned pilot whales typically live in large groups in deep waters beyond the edge of the continental shelf. Here they feed largely upon oceanic squid. However, occasionally they come into shelf waters around the British Isles from the Atlantic, either in pursuit of squid or shoaling fish. It is likely that an abundance of a particular prey species brought them into Welsh coastal waters on this occasion.”

How to monitor whales around Wales: 

  • Report your sightings at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/sightingsform.
  • Stage a dedicated watch at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/recording-and-submitting-sightings.
  • Get in touch! Email kathy.james@seawatchfoundation. org.uk.

Long-finned pilot whale facts: 

  • Length: Adult females are 4-5.5m. Males grow to 5.5- 6m in length.
  • Head: Bulbous head, short, almost imperceptible, beak.
  • Fins and coloration: A dark back, a low-swept back fin and long flippers.
  • Lifespan: Around 50 years
  • Diet: Pilot whales seem to feed exclusively on Todarodes (a genera of cephalopods) whereever possible, but if it is unavailable, the diet is supplemented with a range of other prey items including fish and shrimps. In winter, prey species diversity increases whereas fish become more important in summer, especially in the diet of males, although squid still continue to make up the bulk of the food.
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Education

Wales’ first law department celebrates 120 years at Old Bailey

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Left to right: Lauren Marks, President of Aberystwyth University Old Students’ Association; Ben Lake MP for Ceredigion; The Rt Hon. Elfyn Llwyd, Pro-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University; Dr Emyr Roberts, Chair of Council of Aberystwyth University; The Rt Hon. Lord Lloyd Jones; Meri Huws, Aberystwyth University Council member; The Rt Hon. Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, Chancellor of Aberystwyth University; Professor Emyr Lewis, Head of the Department of Law and Criminology, Aberystwyth University; Professor Tim Woods, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning Teaching and Student Experience, Aberystwyth University; and Professor Anwen Jones Pro Vice-Chancellor for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Aberystwyth University

Wales’ oldest university law department has marked its 120th anniversary with a celebratory event at London’s top criminal court.

Law has been taught at Aberystwyth University since 1901, and in the 120 years that have followed more than 9,000 students from almost one hundred countries have graduated and launched their careers from the department.

The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales provided an illustrious setting for the first of two prestigious events held to mark the 120th anniversary of the longest-established law department in the country.

Alumni of the department include several Ministers of State, politicians and leaders, many who have gone on to develop distinguished legal careers, and those who have achieved success in other professions.

Held at the ‘Old Bailey’ in London, the celebratory event was attended by alumni, staff students and other special guests, including Ceredigion MP Ben Lake. The Guest Speaker was The Rt Hon Lord David Lloyd-Jones FLSW, Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

The special anniversary will be celebrated at a second event to be held at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in Cardiff on the evening of Friday 10 June. Alumni wishing to attend can find more information on the University website: www.aber.ac.uk/en/development/newsandevents/law-anniversary-dinners

Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, The Rt Hon. Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, said: “The history of the teaching of law at Aberystwyth is an inspiring story of dogged determination by a small number of indomitable individuals who laid the foundation for the highly-respected department you see today. In 1899 when it became clear that there was widespread support for the ambition to establish a law department in Wales to provide a broad education in legal principles, funding was raised through the generosity of members of the Bar circuits of north and south Wales, and amongst London Welshmen, with many firms of solicitors and individuals making contributions and pledging recurrent annual support.”

Professor Emyr Lewis, Head of Aberystwyth University’s Department of Law and Criminology said: “From its embryonic foundations at the beginning of the twentieth century, the teaching of law at Aberystwyth has flourished.  Today, as well as excellent teaching which has always been a hallmark of the Aberystwyth approach, the department offers numerous opportunities for students to develop practical skills and hands-on experience.  

Students have the chance to undertake casework in our Family Law Clinic, acquire and practise advocacy skills through our Mooting Society, volunteer with ground-breaking research projects such as Dewis/Choice and the Veterans Legal Link Project, and benefit from our new Law in Practice modules which are designed to begin filling the gap between the traditional core knowledge gained through a law degree and practice.”

Louise Jagger, Aberystwyth University’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations, said: “The long tradition of philanthropic giving at Aberystwyth University continues to this day and was also celebrated and promoted at the dinner.  Over recent years we have embarked on our largest ever philanthropic campaign to transform the iconic Old College into a major cultural and creative centre for Wales to mark the University’s 150th anniversary.

“Part of our plans for the Old College include a Law Room and Moot Court to honour and celebrate the rich contribution that the Law department has made to the University through the provision of a space for public engagement and for enhancing the public understanding of the law. The facility will provide a dedicated venue and resource centre for Moots, the Law Society, debates, seminars, exhibitions, public lectures and alumni gatherings.  Students past, present and future will benefit from this excellent facility. We are grateful to the alumni and friends who have already donated towards this goal and will be inviting further contributions right up until the reopening of Old College in 2024.”

Professor Tim Woods, Aberystwyth University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience, said: “It is a pleasure to join alumni and friends from across the country to celebrate the Department of Law and Criminology’s contribution to Aberystwyth University and its impact on the world over the past 120 years.

“The University itself is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year, and we look forward to reuniting with alumni and supporters at celebratory events in Cardiff, Aberystwyth and London over the coming year to mark this important milestone.”

Aberystwyth University was awarded University of the Year for teaching quality and student experience (Good University Guide, The Times and Sunday Times 2021) and also University of the Year for teaching quality two years consecutively, and Welsh University of the Year (Good University Guide, The Times and Sunday Times 2020).

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Business

New owners at Cenarth Falls Holiday Park in Newcastle Emlyn

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SAVILLS, on behalf of a private client, has completed the sale of Cenarth Falls Holiday Park in Cenarth, Newcastle Emlyn, Wales, to Boutique Resorts Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

The holiday park is set on an attractively landscaped site extending approximately 11.52 acres (4.66 ha) which includes 1.92 acres of woodland. The holiday park has planning permission for 89 static caravan pitches and 30 mixed touring caravan pitches. At the entrance of the park there is a reception, sales office and games room. The property also provides a high quality fitness, hospitality and entertaining space including indoor swimming pool, gym, bar and function room licensed for a maximum of 290 guests, and owner’s accommodation comprising a three bedroom bungalow and adjoining two bedroom cottage.

Cenarth Falls Holiday Park is situated within the historic and picturesque village of Cenarth, Ceredigion, bordering Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The village is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which attracts numerous visitors to the area. The River Teifi is renowned for excellent salmon and sea trout (sewin) fishing and the town of Cardigan is 10 minutes away with an array of shops and amenities. There are numerous sandy beaches nearby and many other activities on offer in the locality including walking, golf and water sports such as kayaking.

Richard Prestwich, Director in the Leisure and Trade Related team at Savills, says: “It has been a privilege to sell such a good quality holiday park, nurtured to its 5 star status over a 34 year period by the former family owner. The new owners are no strangers to high quality holiday businesses being an award winning holiday brand and they will look to improve the quality of the business further to complement their other holiday parks, with the nearest being Fishguard Bay Holiday Park.”

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Japan looking at the revival of Welsh for help with the endangered Okinawan language

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ONE of the biggest selling newspapers in Japan has urged one of the country’s languages to take inspiration from Welsh in its efforts to revive its fortunes.

The Okinawan language, spoken on one of the islands of the nation’s southern tip, has been the subject of a warning by UNESCO that it is in danger of disappearing.

In its front-page editorial column, the Asahi Shimbun, one of the four largest newspapers in Japan which a circulation of some 5m copies, said that those seeking to revitalise the language could take inspiration from the Welsh language.

It notes that children who spoke Okinawan in classrooms in the 19th century were punished by being forced to wear a ‘hogen fuda’ (dialect tag) – similar to the Welsh Not in some schools in Wales.

The kingdom within which the language was spoken was also forcefully annexed from without, and from then on “offered no benefits with regard to receiving a higher education or seeking employment”.

The column says that the story of Okinawan was a “reminder of how the Welsh language was rehabilitated”.

“In the 16th century, Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England. Its language, overpowered by English, was banned,” it said in its editorial.

“It was not until the 20th century that the Welsh language started being used again in education. TV channels that broadcast in Welsh were launched, and it acquired the official language status 11 years ago.

“It was an achievement made possible by Welsh people placing pride in, and passion for, their homeland.

“Let us hope that such a rich language will continue flourishing forever.”

The Okinawan has an estimated 2,000 speakers remaining today. Like Welsh, it has also gained an unexpected foothold in South America, where it is spoken by communities of Okinawan immigrants in Brazil, where there was no historical prohibition on its use.

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