Introducing Cardigan Bay’s Bottlenose Dolphins

Cardigan Bay is home to the UK’s largest, semi-resident population of bottlenose dolphins. The Living Seas team based at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) have been monitoring the dolphin population since 1996!

At this time of year we start to record increased sightings of bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay. CBMWC founder and owner of Dolphin Survey Boat Trips, Steve Hartley, had a close encounter with a group of dolphins on 23rd March in New Quay Bay, after they approached his boat the Anna Lloyd. Thank you to Steve for sharing this amazing video with us!

Want to discover more about dolphins? Our Living Seas team have answered some of the most commonly asked dolphin questions below.

What do they look like?

Cardigan Bay’s bottlenose dolphins are some of the largest in the world, growing up to 4m in length. They have a rounded forehead and short beak. Adults are dark grey in colour with light undersides whereas, younger animals are lighter grey in colour and new-borns often have distinct lines called foetal folds down their sides.

Bottlenose dolphins have sickle shaped dorsal fins and our research team use nicks, notches and scaring (see photo below) to identify individual animals.

© Dr Sarah Perry

What do they eat?

They eat a wide range of schooling and bottom dwelling fish, squid and crustaceans but they can adapt their feeding behaviour to local conditions and food sources. Dolphins use echolocation to find and catch their prey.Click here to listen to an echolocation recording

Bottlenose dolphins have one set of between 80 and 100 conical shaped teeth which last their entire lifetime. However, they don’t chew their food, they use their teeth to grab and secure prey before swallowing it whole!

How do they communicate?

Bottlenose dolphins are sociable animals and can form groups made up of several dolphins to over 100. They use whistles to communicate with each other! It’s thought that each dolphin has its own unique whistle which is used to identify an individual, like a name. Click here to listen to a whistle recording.

© Dr Sarah Perry

Our Favourite Fact!

Dolphins don’t sleep like we do, they have to remain conscious because they actively need to come to the surface to breathe. So, when they sleep they turn off one half of their brain and the other half stays awake so they can keep breathing and monitoring their environment!

Donate for Dolphins

If you have enjoyed discovering our dolphins then you can support out vital work by donating to the Dolphin Appeal here.

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