ShoreFin is our dedicated land-based bottlenose dolphin photo-ID project.
Since 2005 CBMWC researchers have been photographing bottlenose dolphin dorsal fins as part of our ongoing photo-identification catalogue project but until 2012 we had only taken images while at sea.
We record bottlenose dolphins within New Quay bay almost daily through the summer months and although dolphins do often come close to the New Quay harbour and fish factory area, photo-identification work following strict protocols and carried out under licence from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is not permitted within the harbour area.
In 2014 the initiation of our ShoreFin Project allowed us to extend our photo-identification work in New Quay bay and enables us to take photographs from shore-based survey sites using a digital SLR camera and a 500mm lens. This lens is capable of taking photographs of dolphins of high enough quality from shore-based vantage points in New Quay and is ideal for our photo-identification work in New Quay bay.
So now when the dolphins appear in New Quay, so do our dedicated volunteers!
Bottlenose dolphins have what are called home ranges and are frequently seen at specific sites each year. Through our shore and boat-based photo-identification projects we aim to build up a better understanding of whether the same animals visit the New Quay area each day and whether the same animals return to the same site each year. By gathering information on the individuals that visit this site we will be able to identify the animals that use the area and which other areas within Cardigan Bay they also visit, thus providing us with information on their home range and sites that are important to them. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be the same dolphins frequenting New Quay bay e.g. a mother and calf pair seen daily, but without capturing images and being able to compare them with one with another, this is hard to prove.
Any new animals photographed as part of this project will be added to our Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphin photo-identification catalogue.
Keep up to date with our ShoreFin project throughout the season by following us on Twitter @ShoreFin
Download our ShoreFin project report 2014
Download our ShoreFin project report 2015