We are back! After far to long an absence!
It’s been a busy couple of week for marine life enthusiasts in the North West, the North West conference, the upcoming Irish Sea conference in Liverpool Maritime Museum, the Manchester Science Festival and of course Blackpool & Fylde’s first ever ‘Marine Day’.
Sponsored by the Biology society, this event was a great opportunity for students to get in contact with ‘real’ people working in marine science. With displays from the RSPB and local Wildlife Trusts as well as workshops on wildlife photography, coral conservation and of course, UK cetacean identification and Matt was also here talking about UK shark species as well as workshops and a talk from Dr. Dan Exton from Operation Wallacea, it was an exciting event not only for the students but also the exhibitors themselves!
|Themed cupcakes for Marine Day!|
|Cetacean ID workshop|
Note the size, shape and positioning of the dorsal fin; in baleen whales the dorsal fin is usually about 2/3 of the way down the animal’s back whereas in dolphins it tends to be more centrally placed. Some whales have small falcate fins that are not dissimilar from a typical curved dolphin fin, so watch out how much back you see before the fin appears. Some species have very characteristic fins, as for example killer whales, where the dorsal of the male can reach up to 2m in height and is extremely straight and erect. Others, such as pilot whales, have a large, broad based curved fin that differentiates them from most other species. Porpoises, in comparison to dolphins have small triangular fins.
|Long finned pilot whales|
|Killer whale dorsal fins, note the tall straight ones belong to the males, the shorter curved ones females or immature males|
Try to get an idea of the animals colouration, although colours can be misleading depending on what light you see the animals in, some species have highly characteristic colouration such as the easily identifiable black & white colouring in killer whales, other species such as common dolphins have prominent hourglass shading on their sides.
|Short beaked common dolphin|
|Risso's dolphin, note absence of beak|
Finally, although not quite as useful for identification as physical attributes, observe the animal’s behaviour. Although it is by no means a fail safe method, some species are more likely to behave in certain ways than others; for instance harbour porpoises rarely leap out of the water, so if you are looking at small bodied, leaping cetaceans, it’s unlikely they are porpoises.
Generally it is a good idea to make notes on anything and everything you see, write it down if possible, at the time it may seem like you will never forget a detail of the encounter but you would be surprised how the mind can play tricks on you!
|Me starting my talk!|
I must admit, writing my first talk was a little bit nerve racking! But as I got in front of the audience and began the talk I found it very exciting. The talk was a small overview of shark basic shark biology and information on a selection of UK shark species. My aim was to introduce the students and staff the range of shark species in UK waters, of which there are more than many people expect.
|A smooth hammerhead|
We would like to thank Blackpool and Fylde College and to Jean Wilson for making this possible!
I would also like to add, for anyone thinking of a blog site, I cannot reccomend you don't use the awfulness of Blogger!