Posted by: orcaweb | July 18, 2012

The Plight of the Porpoise

Hi all,

This week had plenty of promise with calm seas and reports of whale and dolphin sightings from the coast. However, the week has been usually quiet for wildlife. The gannets and fulmars continue to swoop over the waves and puffins furiously flap their wings heading out to sea in search of food. A few harbour porpoises have been spotted both sides of the North Sea close to North East England and near Amsterdam.

Despite their small size, only 1.5m long, porpoise are the most regular sight for whale watchers in these waters where the population is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands. However, harbour porpoise populations are not stable. In the North Sea huge numbers of these animals are accidentally caught up in fishing nets and gears trapped below the ocean surface unable to breath. It’s estimated that between 3 and 7% of the North Sea population is lost as a result. Slightly further east in the Baltic Sea the situation is much worst. It is believed that only around 600 of these animals still survive in these waters. Accidental entrapment is still the main threat but the semi-enclosed nature of the Baltic Sea means that pollution levels in the area are high exposing much of the marine life to lethal poisons and harmful chemicals which lower the animal’s immune systems increasing the risk of disease. These threats are also an issue for whales and dolphins of all sizes across the world.

Hopefully I will have more sightings next week. Pods of white-beaked dolphins have been seen from the coast at South Shields over the last few days so we might see some of them this week. If you are of the coast of Tyneside or Wearside this week keep an eye on the sea and you might see these dolphins yourself. Please keep checking our blogs for more information though the season.
Mike
ORCA Wildlife Officer
DFDS Seaways King Seaways
18th June 2012

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