Dolphin spotted on region's coast

MARINE conservationists spoke of their delight last night after a dolphin and nearly 30 porpoises were spotted off the Suffolk and Essex coast in just one week.

MARINE conservationists spoke of their delight last night after a dolphin and nearly 30 porpoises were spotted off the Suffolk and Essex coast in just one week.

The Sea Watch Foundation (SWF) organised a series of lookouts around the country in a bid to pinpoint the location of the marine mammals.

In Essex, a dolphin, thought to be from either the common or bottlenose species, was spotted in the Blackwater Estuary, near Maldon, while a harbour porpoise was seen off the coast of Canvey Island.

And in Suffolk, 23 harbour porpoises were seen at Orford Ness, near Woodbridge, three at Dunwich Heath and two at Felixstowe.


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SWF, a marine conservation research charity, set up observation points at various points along the coast as part of the national whale and dolphin watch, held between August 12 and 20. Others were staged in Southwold, Pakefield, near Lowestoft, and at Bradwell without success.

Clare Dickins, of the charity, said the sighting of a dolphin in the Blackwater Estuary was particularly exciting.

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“It's very unusual to get find a dolphin coming up and estuary,” she said.

“It was seen by a member of the public and was eight to 10-foot long, which means it definitely wasn't a porpoise. It was most likely to have been a bottleneck or common dolphin.”

She said it was not known why the marine mammal had ventured into the area, although experts believe it may be related to a rise in sea temperatures.

Although there are estimated to be more than 250,000 harbour porpoises in the North Sea, the charity says more work is needed to pinpoint their precise location and appealed to the public to help with this.

Porpoises factfile

n The harbour porpoise is a small, stocky animal.

n The average length is 1.5m, with a maximum size of about 2m. Females are slightly larger than males.

n They weigh between 45 and 65 kg, with a maximum of 90 kg.

n The harbour porpoise is limited to the cold temperate and sub-arctic waters of the Northern Hemisphere.

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