Oxford, 12 July 2007. Scientists from the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit (CRRU) in Banff, Scotland, and volunteers from Earthwatch, the environmental charity, were dazzled this week when they were joined by over 300 common dolphins in the Outer Moray Firth. This is the first time the team have ever recorded common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), a warm water dolphin species, in these coastal waters in 10 years of studying cetaceans in the North Sea.
"The arrival of common dolphins to the Moray Firth confirms that sea temperatures are rising," says Dr. Kevin Robinson, Director of the CRRU and lead scientist for Earthwatch in the Moray Firth. "Common dolphins are typically found in warmer temperate waters around the British Isles from Cornwall in the southwest and up along the west coast of Scotland."
He continues, "In 2003 we found a stranded common dolphin along the Aberdeenshire coastline, but this is the very first time we have encountered these animals at sea. To be surrounded by so many at one time was an extraordinary experience."
Dr. Robinson is convinced that changing sea temperatures will result in a redistribution of marine mammals but is confident about their survival.
"Whales and dolphins are opportunistic animals that will take advantage of their surroundings and relocate if necessary," he comments. "Perhaps the arrival of new species will generate competition for prey, but as new species arrive, others will leave - like the white-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) that prefers waters of 13ºC and below."
Dr. Robinson is currently leading the Earthwatch research project 'whales and dolphins of the Moray Firth', which is supported by over 60 volunteers from the general public every year. The team are closely monitoring bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) to collect crucial data on these populations to improve their conservation. They were aboard their research vessel in an area known as Southern Trench - the deepest area of the Moray Firth - when they were joined by the new arrivals.
For press information please contact Zoe Gamble, PR Manager, Earthwatch, 01865 318852 / + 44 (0) 7725690469 firstname.lastname@example.org
Formed in 1997, the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU) is a small, non-profit research organisation based in Gardenstown, Banff, in North East Scotland.
The group is dedicated to the conservation and protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Scottish waters through scientific investigation, environmental education, and the provision of professional, veterinary assistance to sick, stranded and injured individuals.