New Quay Wales
During my visit to New Quay in Wales. I was keen to see dolphins, which Cardigan Bay is well known for. They are magnificent creatures and can be found along the coastline from New Quay Wales all the way south to the lower part of Cardigan Bay.
New Quay is a central point in the area which is a Special Area of Conservation. It was set up to protect marine wildlife ensuring that human activity is done in a way that is sustainable. Such as abiding by a clear codes of conduct for boats and not simply chasing after a dolphin the moment it is spotted.
There are lots of boat trips to spot dolphins that run on a regular basis from the harbour in New Quay. These trips are from an hour all the way up to an 8 hour tour. I was really hoping to be lucky enough to see a dolphin but not really expecting it. I visited the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay. Packed full of information and great enthusiasm from the volunteers. New Quay is a key location for the dolphins and over time around 300 have been spotted around Cardigan Bay. The boat trips are part for tourists to spot the dolphins but each trip records sightings into details records.
Not only the bottlenose dolphins, but Atlantic seals and harbour porpoises live around the bay. Frequently seen from New Quay and often off the harbour wall. That is a great bonus. In an evening lots of people watch for the dolphins and become so engrossed they forget to protect their fish and chip supper from seagulls.
The dolphins are large creatures around 6 foot in length and live in larger social groups. They can live up to 50 years and don’t breed until they are about 12 years old. They can play happily but when the mating season approaches it all gets more serious and the males fight over the females- nothing new, but some die from the injuries. A little stronger than ‘she is my girlfriend’ it seems. They like to show off, surf by the side of the boats, slap their tails and generally say – look at me.
Porpoises are much shyer and do not seem to be as visible, not courting the cameras and certainly not trying to dive higher and surf by the boats. They are smaller than the bottlenose dolphin and live in smaller groups. They breed much earlier and the calves are much paler than the dolphin. They can be seen from New Quay and along the coast to Pembrokeshire. They tend to live within 6 miles of the shore
Interesting that these seals are more closely related to bears. Half of the world population can be found along the Welsh coast from New Quay along to Aberystwyth where there is around 5500 seals. They are born white and turn grey as they grow. They live between 25 and 35 years. When you think about the dangers the animals face it is amazing they live for so long.
Once I had learned a little from the guys in the Marine Centre in New Quay I was even more excited about my trip. Camera ready, spare cards and batteries charged. I walked to the boat and as well got on board there was a dolphin just off the harbour wall. Wow but missed the photo opportunity. As the boat moved out of New Quay harbour the marine survey went into full swing with each sighting noted.
Amazed to learn that the individual bottlenose dolphins can be clearly identified by the distinctive marking on their fins. As went travelled along to Cwm Tydu my luck was definately in and as a dolphin appeared everyone on the boat would call to make sure we got the best shot. Using auto setting on the camera really helped and so happy to see so many dolphins. Then another stoke of good fortune and saw not just a porpoise but seals. This time the camera was better timed with a few great shots. Good to see that everyone on the boat not only had a good time but learned a lot about the Special Area of Conservation around New Quay and found that the guys from the Marine Wildlife Centre helpful and happy to share knowledge. The great debate was should the dolphins be named?