Jen Adams from the charity Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch describes how new camera equipment funded by a lottery grant is helping research:
Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch (MWDW) has been at the forefront of marine mammal science on the Isle of Man since 2006.
We work voluntarily year-round to ensure the safeguarding of whales, dolphins, and porpoises (cetaceans) in Manx territorial waters through non-invasive research and public awareness efforts.
Our new research project ‘Photo-identification of cetaceans from land’, funded by the Manx Lottery Trust, aims to provide us with a better understanding of how individual cetaceans are using Manx waters. With our powerful new 600mm Tamron lens, we are able to take high quality images of cetacean dorsal fins whilst out on our regular land-based surveys.
Cetaceans naturally develop identifying features over time such as scratches, scars and cuts, making each dorsal fin unique just like our fingerprints.
High quality, side on images of dorsal fins allows us to catalogue individual animals, showing us how often they return to a particular site and where else around the British Isles (or beyond) they go.
Through boat-based photo-identification we know that our furthest known Risso’s dolphin match was made with Cornwall and many or our bottlenose dolphins spend the summer in Cardigan Bay.
Boat-based surveys can be sporadic, so our new camera set-up from land will provide us with regular opportunities to collect photographs, increasing our dataset and giving us a better understanding of how cetaceans are using our coastline to forage, socialise and bring up their young.