Skip navigation

Another species on the edge that is being monitored very closely. I'll be keeping everything crossed that numbers are up...



Wildlife conservationists will trawl the length and breadth of Brahmaputra and its tributaries for assessing the status of gangetic dolphin population from the first week of February.


Guwahati-based biodiversity conservation NGO,Aaranyak, in association with state forest department, will conduct the survey covering the Brahmaputra right from the Assam-Arunachal border to the Indo-Bangladesh border in Dhubri. Also the Brahmaputra's tributaries - Lohit,Dibang, Siang, Subansiri and Kulsi- will be covered in the survey.


"We will be covering a distance of about 1,100 km of Brahmaputra and its tributaries for the survey. This time, we will also attempt to go as far upstream of the tributaries in Arunachal Pradesh. By March we will be come out with the findings of our survey," Abdul Wakid, Aaranyak's Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Programme (GDRCP) head, informed. In the 2008 survey by Aaranyak, 264 gangetic dolphins were found in a stretch of 1,031 km of Brahmaputra river system. The population was estimated around 250 in 2005.





A bit of an ongoing story here, back in November a dolphin was rescued near Alabama, the area has seen a massive increase in strandings recently, see my previous posts here: Further on the Gulf Coast strandings.


Well it appears the dolphin, named Chance is still alive and seems to be healing well although still has a long way to go. Sadly the write up doesn't tell us much about the strandings which have now been declared a "Unusual Mortality Event."

GULFPORT, Mississippi -- A nearly dead dolphin found in Alabama in November is recovering at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and yielding data that may help explain 630 dolphin strandings that have occurred in the northern Gulf of Mexico since February 2010.


Moby Solangi, director of the institute, said he is not at liberty to talk about details of what has been discovered as the dolphin named "Chance" has been nursed back from the brink of death after being rescued Nov. 24 from near a marsh at Fort Morgan.


"What we can say is it has revealed some significant information," Solangi said.


"Finding this live dolphin was like finding the black box from an airplane after a crash," he said.









Massive fingers crossed for Chance and I hope they can work out whats happening and put an end to it soon!


Sorry for the long break in updates, the New Year is always a bit of a crazy time with the previous years data needing to be sorted and validated. There will be a report, which will head over to Defra probably sometime around April, then hopefully I'll be able to post up some of the main points of 2011's strandings up here shortly after that.


And more dolphin related news, some interesting interspecies behaviour for you all!








Source with interesting write up:


Following the report by the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme (CSIP) published before Christmas several people have contacted the museum via twitter/facebook asking if the fall in the number of recorded strandings is due to decline in the number of cetaceans in UK waters? and whether man is responsible for the fall in numbers?


For those who have not read the report, one of the main points was there has been a 22% fall in the numbers of animals stranded between 2005 and 2010 compared with the number recorded 2000- 2005. Unfortunately we are only able to record dead animals and are not able to relate this number to the actual number of live animals around the UK coast. The number of stranded animals in 2011 looks to have increased over the 2010 numbers, does this mean a recovery for UK animals?  - No. One years data or even 5 years are not enough to show trends.


Now that whale and dolphin watching has now become a tourist activity, with places such as Cornwall and the Scottish Isles having commercial boats taking people to look at cetaceans, more people are aware of the sealife around the UK coast and there are websites to record sightings  eg Seawatch. Please do record any sightings, as no one knows how many animals there are swimming around our shores. There are several groups trying to identify individual whale and dolphins by photograhing their dorsal fins and tail flukes. For example the Seawatch Foundation run a Photo a Fin campaign to gather information.


However it is difficult to correlate the number of strandings with the number of live sightings. Many factors influence if information is gathered about dead animals, the main one being if someone actually reports that an animal has stranded to us. Most people assume that 'someone else' will do something about a dead cetacean, there are only a few occasions that a stranded animal is reported to us by more than one member of the public, so we believe many more go unreported. There is now a freephone to call (0800 6520333) to report any cetacean stranded in the UK


The reason for CSIP is to gather information about strandings (which the Natural History Museum started in 1913). With more data we can look for longer term patterns in the number of strandings and causes of death for animals which are taken for post mortem. We can then hope to influence the decisions made by goverments in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff about the marine life around the UK



The question of whether man activities causes the death of some cetaceans is not in doubt. There is evidence that manmade underwater noise causes cetaceans to panic and die due to embolisms - similar to the bends in human divers. One of the CSIP investigators co-authored a paper on the mass stranding of beaked whales in the Canary Islands in 2002 which was linked to navel sonar activity. It is rare to be able to link any death with one particular sonic activity. However most deaths caused by man are due to bycatch- animals which have died due to fishing eg caught in nets an ddrowned. Between 1991 and 2010 almost 600 animals have been had their cause of death identified at post mortem as bycatch. There is research underway into underwater 'pingers' to deter dolphins from going near fishing boats. CSIP are currently investigating the levels of toxic chemicals eg PCBs in dolphins. These manmade chemicals are known to accumulate in the top predators eg Dolphin and Killer whales and while may not cause death directly will impact on the general health of an animal. Man's activities also affect the other animals that CSIP investigate - seals, marine turtles and basking sharks.


Watch our project leader doing a post mortem on a common dolphin.




Today the UK Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme have issued a new leaflet about the programme with a handy identification guide on the back. The leaflet gives information about why we collect information about stranded animals and the sort of information we collect. It also lists many of the organisations which help in the project



The ID guide illustrates the common animals that strand around the shores of the UK


If you would like a copy you can download one at:   or if you need multiple copies please contact us at




Also today they have published their report for the 6 year period 2005-2010. This summaries the 3400 strandings that have been reported to CSIP over the 6 years. However we believe that some animals are not being recorded and encourage everyone to give us details of stranded cetaceans (and turtles, seals and basking sharks) using the freephone number 0800 6520333 or the email

The report can be downloaded from the DEFRA website:[1].pdf


It is DEFRA who finance the project in England,with the Scottish and Welsh goverments supporting the project in Scatland and Wales respectively. Without this funding CSIP would be unable to their valuable work.




I particularly like this bit ‘"The porpoises have found a way to not only avoid the ships, but it's also the noise they make," says Keener.


Harbor porpoises haven't been seen in San Francisco Bay for more than 60 years. But now, they're coming back through the Golden Gate in growing numbers and researchers are trying to understand why they’re returning.






The best place to look for them is 220 feet above the water on the pedestrian walkway across the Golden Gate Bridge. That's where Bill Keener of Golden Gate Cetacean Research photographs them, holding a massive telephoto lens over the side of the railing.




"There's a porpoise right there, coming very, very close," he says pointing. A dark shape appears in the water. It's a harbor porpoise, coming up for air. "And here's a mother and calf coming straight at us."








Another pick up

Posted by Strandings Officer Dec 8, 2011

A little while ago CSIPs head honcho Rob went to Devon to get a dolphin and came back with 3 5 post mortem animals for 2 trips this time he went and only came back with the one, standards are obviously dropping (just joking boss!).


We got wind of a live strandings over the weekend from BDMLR, the local coastguard and one of my favourite volunteers David J. Despite some local surfers staying in the water with the common dolphin for what sounds like hours, the local vet had to make the hard decision to put the animal down. I know everyone on the scene worked really hard to keep the animal alive and were understandably disappointed at the outcome. It’s not the perfect end to the story but hopefully our post-mortem will help answer some questions about why the animal had to die.


David J just emailed me this picture of one of the guys trying to save the dolphin, such a shame it didn't work out.


1-11-2011- to 6-12-2011 290.JPG


In this post  Fin whale in Co Sligo Ireland I mentioned that a dolphin had been discovered in a salt walter lake in Ireland, sadly according to the IWDG's website, it looks like the animal didn't find it's way back to sea after all.


IWDG have received a report from local whale watch expert, Colin Barnes, that he has just seen a dead dolphin washed up on the island on Lough Hyne this morning 1/12/11. He described it as a medium sized animal, and can confirm that it is a common dolphin.


This sighting brings to a close the mystery as to whether this animal succeeded in returning to open ocean. Alas, this outcome was predictable, and is yet another reminder that cetaceans are at high risk when they venture out of their "normal" habitats. Lough Hyne can now claim another first, as it can now add to its first cetacean sighting, its first cetacean stranding; albeit of the same individual.


Thanks to everyone on IWDG's facebook page who took a big interest in this story.




A few weeks ago I put up a post about the unprecedented numbers of bottlenose dolphins stranding off the Gulf Coast Dead dolphins still a concern on Gulf Coast


Further to this story, a live animal has been found, this will give the researchers a good chance to study the animal and hopefully see if they can untangle whats going on. Fingers crossed 'Chance' as the locals have named it, survives!


Four more dolphins washed up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico this week. For coastal residents from Louisiana to Florida, the beached animals are a familair sight: hundreds of decomposing dolphin carcasses have turned up over the last two years.


But last week, Alabama residents came across a stranded dolphin that was still alive, though badly injured.


Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., where the rescued dolphin is being cared for and studied, said the discovery presented the institute’s first opportunity in two years to examine a live dolphin that was ill.


The researchers hope that studying the dolphin will yield clues to the principal cause of the die-off. “People in Alabama call it Chance,” Dr. Solangi said of the survivor









This is a very cool project!



The people at St Andrews in Scotland, they have tagged 25 pilot and killer whales in various locations and recorded their calls. They are now asking volunteers to match up the vocalisations, to help them better understand their communication. 'Citizen Scientists' from around the world are being asked to listen to and classify the various calls.


The increasing size of current acoustic datasets and the large call repertoire make it very difficult for scientists to address these questions. A single person would take months to go through the data, and the outcome would still depend on a single persons’ interpretation.


For this reason we want to ask you to help us solve this problem, by categorizing the calls of killer whales pilot whales that you find on this website. The dataset generated by this project will allow us to address interesting questions, such as:


  • How well do different judgements of volunteers agree, and how well can we categorize calls of vocal species such as pilot whales?
  • How large is the call repertoire of pilot whales? (is size repertoire sign of intelligence?)
    • Do the long and short finned pilot whales have different call repertoires (or ‘dialects’?).
    • Does this repertoire change during sonar transmissions? if so, how does this related to changes in behavior of the individuals and the group as a whole?



    Go to to take part!


    Write up from the BBC as well:



    Right I'm off to match up a few more calls before lunch! (hope my boss isn't reading this!)


    13m Fin whale washed up in Raughley, north Co Sligo yesterday. It's been a busy week for Ireland cetacean wise, with the first confirmed sighting of a dolphin in a lake. A common dolphin was spotted in a saltwater lake in Co Cork. It was seen for 2 days but has since moved on, assumed to have gone back to sea.


    Whale story

    The carcass of a whale yesterday lay strewn on a beach after it had been battered against nearby rocks.

    It was swept on to the rocks on Monday night in gale-force winds.



    Dolphin in Lake


    THE IRISH Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has confirmed the first sighting of a dolphin in an Irish lake, in Lough Hyne near Baltimore, Co Cork. This is the first time a cetacean has been found in such an environment.


    The group’s sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley said: “The IWDG frequently documents cetaceans in bays, occasionally in estuaries, rarely in rivers, but to the best of my knowledge, and I’m open to correction, this is the first validated record of a cetacean using an Irish lake.”


    Whale story:


    Lake story:


    I try to steer clear of political cetacean issues, I'm making no comment on this story but I think it's important to post the link.


    It's not very nice I'm afraid:


    It's been a busy week for pick ups, CSIP's head honcho Rob did a gallant round trip to Devon to pick up 2 animals and whilst on the road I got a call about a 3rd on Hayling Island beach. With a squeal of the brakes and a quick turn around Rob was able to squeeze the third animal in the back of his car.


    There was then a 'mass' stranding in Kent, nr Folkstone. I say 'mass' as it was 2 animals, probably not quite what you'd term as mass but scientific history states 2 or more animals to be recorded as 'mass'. Unable to get anyone to check the animals were still there and not being too far away myself, I headed there on the Monday morning. I had a fun time scouting what is possibly one of the larges beaches I've ever seen for 2 not very large harbour porpoises. With the help of a very lovely couple (sorry I didn't get your names) we managed to track down the animals and secure them for pick up by James (who was on his way from the museum).


    Unfortunately I've been unable to put up PM results so far as they all have to go to Defra first, but after talking to head honcho Rob he said we may be able to put up some basic results a bit sooner, fingers crossed!


    2 head.JPG



    Photo of one of the 'mass' strandings from New Romney, photo by Susanna Clerici


    A baby bottlenose dolphin gets untangled from a fishing line in the USA.


    The baby dolphin would've eventually died, had a determined team of marine biologists and veterinarians not set off on this amazing rescue.


    "We were able to go right out and set the net around the animal, capture it, and the vets were able to disentangle it," said NOAA Biologist Jessica Powell.


    Several feet of tangled fishing line was digging deep into the calf, through its mouth, around his flipper, and dorsal fin. It could've been a slow and painful death.




    Source and video:'s-pass-11162011

    1 2 3 4 5 Previous Next