The first resident pod of bottlenose dolphins has been found living year-round off the south-west coast of England.
The BBC reported that experts have used a combination of photos and sightings in their thousands to ‘identify a group of 28 individuals living year-round off the coasts of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.’
The dolphins were identified by their dorsal fins which are as ‘unique to them as fingerprints are to humans.’
Researchers at Plymouth University identified 98 dolphins – among them the resident population – by studying 3,843 records.
Documented between 2007 and 2016, the sightings confirmed the group was ‘present in shallow costal waters, mainly off Cornwall and particularly near St Ives Bay and Mount’s Bay.’
Ruth Williams, marine conservation manager at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, told the BBC: “Further work is needed but this is a huge step forward and I am proud of what our partnership between Cornwall Wildlife Trust, scientists and boat operators has achieved.
“We need to make sure the few we currently have in the south west are given the protection not just to survive, but to thrive.”
The UK’s two other resident bottlenose dolphin populations – in Cardigan, Wales and Moray Firth, Scotland – both have protection.
Stock Photo by Lachlan Dempsey