Plea for photos of dolphins at sea

Ed FossSeafarers, tourists and fishermen working or playing off the Norfolk coast have been asked to grab their cameras before they set out to help build a better picture of whale and dolphin populations.Ed Foss

Seafarers, tourists and fishermen working or playing off the Norfolk coast have been asked to grab their cameras before they set out to help build a better picture of whale and dolphin populations.

Although rarely seen from the beach, whales and dolphins have been spotted in the seas off East Anglia.

Photographs of the animals, particularly their fins, are important for monitoring populations because individuals can often be identified from patterns of nicks, scars and other markings if they have been spotted and logged previously.

The project is being led by the Sea Watch Foundation, which holds a national identification database at the charity's base in Wales and can access regional catalogues held by other groups.


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'This is a very exciting project for us and we want to encourage as many people as possible to send us their photos,' said Peter Evans, Sea Watch research director. 'The more we receive, the more we should be able to uncover about dolphin movement patterns, habits and behaviour.'

'By analysing movements more through this identification project, we can learn a lot from the dolphins, whales and porpoises around the UK - about the way they live, where they range to, and the challenges they are likely to face during their journeys.

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'We need to understand more about them to shape conservation policies and so enable them to thrive in UK waters.'

Sea Watch has organised the photo campaign as part of its annual national whale and dolphin watch.

This year's watch will run from August 7 to 15 and Sea Watch volunteers will be co-ordinating a series of events nationwide.

The charity welcomes pictures of fins of dolphins, whales or porpoises at any time during the year, but particularly during the watch period.

Send photos to photo@seawatchfoundation.org.uk with your name and contact information, date and location of sighting, estimation of the number of animals in the group and any other relevant details.

Because dolphins and whales are protected species, there are strict regulations preventing boats from intentionally disturbing them by sailing too close or from following them. Sea Watch bosses have emphasised pictures should be from opportunistic encounters, either when dolphins are bow riding or when they approach a boat.

t Tips for a good photograph include setting your camera to take at the highest resolution, focusing directly on the animal, avoiding distant shots and taking at a perpendicular angle.

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