(Above) Seal rescue © Julie Hatcher (below) Smiley the seal © Helen Conyers,
Dolphin calf, Velella velellar & Trigger fish © Julie Hatcher
Seal pup rescue
At the end of November a grey seal pup was rescued from Chesil Beach at Abbotsbury where it was found to be in very poor condition. At only 4-5 weeks old the pup was very thin and had sustained some superficial cuts to its face. The male pup, subsequently nicknamed Skipjack, has been cared for at the RSPCA wildlife centre at West Hatch in Somerset where he will remain until fully recovered. It is expected that he will be released with other rescued seal pups in February or March.
Before Christmas, Dorset Wildlife Trust received several reports from kayakers in Studland Bay and Poole Harbour that a seal had been playing around their kayaks and canoes as they were paddling along. It had even been climbing aboard! Thanks to Poole Harbour Canoe Club, we received some enchanting photos of the seal and were able to add her to our developing Seal Photo Identification catalogue. The young, grey seal is a female, now nicknamed Smiley because of a ‘smiley face’ shaped mark on her neck and also because of her friendly and playful nature.
Two dead dolphins were reported washed up along the Dorset coast; one at Chesil Cove in late December and the other at West Bay in early January. The Chesil Cove dolphin, identified as a common dolphin, had what experts believe to be a large shark bite taken from its rear. It is thought that this dolphin was probably scavenged by the shark (possibly an Oceanic white tip) when already dead. Interestingly, dolphins often carry a parasite in their blubber which requires a shark host for part of its life-cycle. The parasite lives in the part of the dolphin most likely to be eaten by a shark to ensure it can fulfil its life-cycle.
By the wind sailors
By-the-wind sailors, Velella velella, have been washing up on Cornish beaches in large numbers. Flotillas of these oceanic drifters are driven towards our coast by strong winds and can sometimes be found on western shores at this time of year. In January a single by-the-wind sailor was found at Kimmeridge. Please send us your records if you have come across this animal in Dorset.
The grey triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, is a late summer visitor to our shores but tends to die off when sea temperatures plummet in winter. Several have been found washed up along the Dorset coast, especially at Chesil Beach. Please send us your records if you have come across this animal in Dorset.