Monday, 22 May 2017

Porpoise show

It is a rare thing at Dungeness to be able to stand at the very point, in t-shirt and shorts, and feel too hot. Even mid-summer can see you putting on a jumper, and then adding a fleece. However, this afternoon was that rare beast, when the sun shone, the temperature rose, and the wind went elsewhere for a change. It was glorious. Mark H and I stood on the shingle bank above a millpond sea, with not a wave to be seen. A distant mist obscured all but the top of container ships and any sound carried great distances across the water.

Small black shapes kept surfacing before us, compact cetaceans - Harbour Porpoises. Conditions allowed us to estimate at least 30 being present, maybe 15 of them close inshore. We could hear the muted splashes as they dived, at times four or more surfacing together in a gentle huddle. It was altogether magical.

I returned an hour later with Dave W, but they had mostly gone - a nearby Grey Seal was to blame, maybe the same one that has preyed on porpoise calfs this spring. There was some compensation in the form of 7 Little Terns and an Arctic Skua. The weather looks set fair for the foreseeable future. And that's fine by me.

2 comments:

  1. I had no idea seals attacked porpoises. I was about to suggest dolphins as the likely culprit, but looking online it seems that Grey Seals tackle fully grown porpoise on a rare but increasing basis. I'm quite shocked at that!

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    1. The lads down here have photographed a porpoise pup being killed by a Grey Seal this spring.

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