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We’re having a whale of a time
THE sunshine has brought unprecedented numbers of visitors to Lyme Bay – of the aquatic variety.
Dr Tom Brereton, Bridport -based research director of the charity Marinelife, has been following the influx.
He said: “Following an unprecedented spell of windy weather lasting for months, finally it’s been wonderful to get back out to sea in such perfect weather. “The sheer variety of animals present has taken us by surprise, with so many incredible encounters. Lyme Bay offers world-class marine wildlife watching at the moment.”
He added the large and spectacular invasion of marine animals into Lyme Bay was unprecedented – in four days a breaching thresher shark, a minke whale and six different dolphin schools were seen.
They included more than 100 bow-riding white-beaked dolphins, several common dolphin schools, numerous sightings of harbour porpoises, an ocean sunfish, large numbers of compass jellyfish and a feeding frenzy of seabirds involving over 1500 Manx shearwaters and 800 gannets. Several rarer seabirds were also seen including pomarine skua, European storm-petrel, sooty shearwater and small numbers of Europe’s rarest seabird – the globally endangered Balearic shearwater.
Dr Brereton and fellow researchers from the marine conservation charity Marinelife have been studying the animals in Lyme Bay and surrounding south west waters since 2007.
In the last five years more than 200 surveys have been completed by Marinelife volunteers totalling 60,000 km travelled.
Thousands of sightings have been logged and are contributing to a European-Union funded project – Charm III, which aims to research and map marine biodiversity in the Channel.
If you want to get involved can contact Marinelife development manager Andrew McLeish by email at andrew.mcleish@mar ine-life.org.uk More details can be found at marine-life. org.uk or visit the blog at marinelifecharm3.blog spot.co.uk/ For guided boat trips into Lyme Bay contact David Shute on 01962 733051.