White beaked dolphins seen off East Anglia
- Credit: Timothy Bradford
Waters off the coast of East Anglia saw some surprising visitors this year in the form of a group of dolphins, hundreds of miles from their normal habitat.
These white beaked dolphins, which normally live in subarctic waters, were far from the only cetaceans seen out of place around the coast of Britain.
Other unexpected sea creatures seen around the UK include 17 humpback whales, which were recorded by the Cornish Wildlife Trust.
The species, which was once a very rare sight around Britain, is thought to be chasing shoals of sardines in the region, and is evidence the species is recovering after the ban on commercial whaling.
But more than 170 cetaceans were stranded in Cornwall alone this year – along with 247 seals, many injured by fishing activity – including a striped dolphin, a species rarely seen in the UK.
Nick the bottlenose dolphin, admired by swimmers in Cornwall, washed up in Ireland with injuries consistent with propeller damage, and a minke whale appeared in the Thames but had to be put down after its condition deteriorated.
Daniele Clifford, marine conservation officer for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Noise at sea caused by wind farms and other development can disorientate wildlife and cause whales and dolphins to head off course – we need to think carefully about all marine development in the future.
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“Also, far too many marine creatures are unnecessarily killed due to unsustainable fishing practices, with lost and discarded fishing gear also causing havoc – especially for seals, dolphins and other marine mammals.”
The organisations also warned that people’s recreational activities are putting pressure on wildlife, with a rise in disturbance from jet-skis and motorboats causing major concern.
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales witnessed a seal pup being abandoned by its mother after people were seen taking selfies with the youngster, while Dorset Wildlife Trust said large cruise ships anchored off the coast during the pandemic damaged fragile reef and seabed habitats.