I am writing this blog with a very heavy heart. Two days ago we attended the live stranding of a juvenile Risso's dolphin here on the Isle of Lewis and despite our best efforts the decision was taken (by the vet at the scene) to end the animals life. Attending the post-mortem the following day was difficult but important. The chances of us being at the right place at the right time for this dolphin were very slim (it was only due to high winds and dogs to walk that we were on that particular beach) but we intend to make sure that lessons are learnt from this unfortunate tragedy.
Further details can be found in our fieldwork blog.
This incident has only strengthened our resolve as to the importance of studying this population of animals. No population-level information is available on trends in abundance, incidental mortality rates or even the distributional range of the populations of Risso’s dolphins in Scotland or the UK. Risso’s dolphins are oceanic dolphins that feed primarily on squid, octopus and cuttlefish and seem predominantly to feed in deeper waters. They are often found around interesting topographical features, where productivity is enhanced by mixing waters, such as seamounts and escarpments. The species only inhabit a handful of coastal sites where the continental shelf is narrow and close to shore and because Scotland is in the process of designating a network of marine protected areas by 2012, to meet its international obligations – we think this population of Risso’s deserves to be included!
More information on our research here can be found by following the fieldwork blog!
More photos can also be found on the fieldwork blog ... but i'll leave you with a selected few of the best from here so far .... !
Next time we'll hear from researchers studying Risso's dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea.