FRIDAY FUN DAY!

 

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Bit of a long post this time as I’ve got well loads to report from the past week or so but before I get into all of the work shenanigans, we’ve been on another Friday fun day jolly and it was awesome so that is priority for now.

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Glen Maye happiness

The sun was shining and the weather was sweet, making us want to move our dancing feet so after working hard all week we decided to go on an ‘essential team building exercise’. We started off our adventures at Glen Maye which was downright delightful. I always forget just how much I love this island and that there is a world outside of Peel until we go exploring. It’s pretty much a mystical fairy land combined with sets from Lord Of The Rings in my opinion and the waterfall at Glen Maye is fairly high up on the list of amazingness. The draping ivy and carpets of moss heightened the fairy feels and what with that and the dappled sunlight dancing on the murky water, I was 100% confident I was about to see a mermaid emerging from the depths.

 

Once we’d taken our fill of waterfall selfies we carried on walking through the Glen, marvelling at the lichens and fungus like the nerdy little nature nuts we are and chatting our usual nonsense when a very lost and confused bat appeared, flitting and fluttering in rapid circles over our heads. It must of been very disorientated in the daylight and was going crazy with it’s impressive acrobatic skills. NOW, if that doesn’t prove the magical whimsy-ness of this place then I honestly don’t know what will.

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Onwards we strolled, with the scenery changing from the Middle Earth vibe to a fern-y Jurassic Park one, until we got to the rocky beach where we settled for lunch. It was very pretty and peaceful with the sun beaming down on the glittering water but with the unusual amount of rotting seaweed and therefore swarming flies the moment was lost a bit, truth be told. I went to explore the rocks and nearly smashed my head open in a slippery tumble and Chris had an encounter with a persistent wasp that I found highly amusing although I’ve a feeling he may have different views. Upon agreement that this beach was against us in every way we headed back to the car, up through the steep Glen, to trundle onto our next destination – THE CHASMS.

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So The Chasms are mega. Everyone should go there. I SAW ANOTHER KESTREL. That was cool. It was hovering right up close to us and as one of my favourite birds ever and only the third kestrel I’ve seen on this island I was chuffed. We marvelled at Sugar Loaf with it’s massive bird colonies, I had a wee nap in the brilliant sunshine, Chris was determined to terrify the wits out of me by teetering ever closer to the crumbly edge to take photos and Jen, constantly on the look-out, spotted a pod of Risso’s dolphins far out but clearly viewable amongst the sparkling waves.

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Next we had a quick stop off at the Meayll Circle on the aptly named Meayll Hill to walk around the ancient burial ground. I got told off for striding right into the centre because Jen told me I’d upset the fairies. I’ve yet to feel their wrath but I’ll let you know if there are any developments.

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ancient burial ground and fairy residence

Our final location was halfway along the road between Niarbyl and The Sloc to go bilberry picking. There was bloomin’ loads of them, I turned into someone I’ve not met before in a furious competition with myself to pick every single berry, scrabbling through the branches like a mad woman, on the brink of tumbling into the bushes in my haste. Unfortunately I ate every single one I picked so we couldn’t compare our treasures to see who had found the most but I’m pretty sure I won.

 

Around that jolly ole day we’ve been busy little buffalos with work. We had our stall at the last few events of the summer in one packed weekend. We attended the Royal Agricultural Show in Kirk Patrick on Friday and Saturday the 12th and 13th and then the Friends of the Earth Port Erin Beach Day on the Sunday. Both shows went very well, even if they were fairly exhausting. I was working at the pub all weekend too and was pretty much ready to collapse by Monday but loads of people came over to chat about our work, tell us of their own sightings and paint practically a beach load of pebbles so it was definitely worth it. Me and Sarah did a mini Tough Mann course in order to obtain a pair of mighty trendy fluorescent green Manx Telecom sunglasses which was harder than it looked and I cannot comprehend how people do the real thing willingly. I spent the majority of my free time in the food tent pushing my luck with the cheese and chutney tasters. I think if I had returned one more time I would of been banned from the marquee but cheese is my kryptonite and I will forever be a slave to free food.

On Sunday our team split with Jen taking our stand to the event at Port Erin and the rest of us taking advantage of a rare spell of perfect weather and heading out on a boat survey. We were out for around five hours and along with the usual Harbour porpoises, were treated to a pod of Short-beaked Common dolphins coming over to investigate the boat. For starters, this was the first time I’d seen this species but it was also my first dolphin encounter from the boat so I was beside myself. I was in charge of the pole-cam which involves dangling half overboard and poking a stick with a Go-Pro attached into the sea to try and get some under-water footage. At one point they were surfacing right under my nose which definitely provoked some over excited squealing and choice words of excitement. Sarah’s keen eyes also clocked a Minke Whale but I think it clocked us first and sped away fairly quickly before any of us could get a photo.

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short-beaked common dolphin

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Chris gazing into the distance, attempting to detach himself from our #BOATSELFIE

The next day was another blinder so off we went again to sail the high seas. Even with the calm water and brilliant sunshine we hadn’t seen anything for hours, bar a couple more porpoises until we were on our way back, just a mile off Peel Hill when Jen spotted Risso’s dolphins. We turned the engine off and began snapping away to try and get some photo ID worthy pictures and before we knew it we were surrounded. There were about 20 of them in various directions, we didn’t know where to point our cameras. They seemed completely unphased by our presence and were displaying like nobody’s business. Head slapping, breaching and tail slapping whilst all the time coming up close to the boat and whizzing off again. It was marvellous, I couldn’t believe how big they were and how unusual they look with their square heads and scars.

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it’s only a bloomin’ Risso’s, right up close to our boat!

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a mini breach

Other than the cetaceans, I also saw a massive peculiar jellyfish, my first ever Manx Shearwaters which almost made me fall off the boat in haste to keep them in my binoculars and a very friendly Fulmar who sat on the water right next to us, eyeing us up and probably trying to figure out if we were a fishing boat or not.

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friendly Fulmar

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I look pensive but I think I was thinking about cheese

A couple weeks ago, me and Jen took my wonderful banner and Jen’s wonderful knowledge to Onchan Library for a children’s talk. It turned out to be very popular and I do believe they had to start turning people away as it was fully booked which is great. Jen talked about the Big Five species, pointing out how to tell them apart with their behaviour and appearance then we had a treasure hunt around the library and we ended the session with sharky whaley crafts which I got WELL into. It was a lovely afternoon and we’d like to say thanks to the library for having us, the brilliant library staff plus all of the children and parents who attended.

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bringing cetacean education to the Onchan masses

We’ve also been out on a few land-based surveys this week, spotting Risso’s dolphins and porpoises and the public have reported various sightings of Short-beaked Common dolphins and even some Minke Whales which is fantastic.

Oh, we also met Ben Fogle as he was filming for an online programme. He talked to Jen about the wildlife you can see around the island and asked me and Sarah what it meant to be a Dolphineer. I was so giddy and star struck I could do nowt but smirk and blush but luckily Sarah saw the state I was in and took it upon herself to ask for a photo. He’s a top geezer.

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I MET BEN FOGLE! THAT’S ME AND BEN FOGLE! BEN FOOOOGGGGLLLEEE!!

In amongst all of that we’ve been enjoying the sunshine in what is turning out to be Ibiza round III, my severely bronzed knees are beginning to ever so slightly blend in with the rest of my legs, even if my forever tomato-red face gives the game away. We had Peel Carnival the other weekend and although I witnessed all of it from a bench outside the Creek nursing a severe hangover it seemed pretty cool. We were due to have a stall on the prom but we were concerned about the winds forecast beating up our beloved gazebo and whipping away our leaflets so had a break, which I think was well deserved, even if I do say so myself. I believe the Rio-like dancing girls were the highlight of most people’s day and the pub was packed for most of the afternoon and evening.

The next few weeks will unfortunately be the last for two of our Dolphineers. Sarah and Chris will be leaving at the beginning of September to move on to their future careers but I’m sure we’ll see both of them visiting the island now and again. We have barbecues and parties planned for their farewell so no doubt the aftermath of those will feature in a couple of blogs time.

 

Until then, enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts, hopefully we’ll have a shed load of cetaceans turning up and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an influx of Basking sharks yet.

Why did the shark cross the Great Barrier Reef?

TO GET TO THE OTHER TIDE.

I’ll almost admit an apology for that one but it really was the best of the lot.

 

I couldn’t think of a title for this one.

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so, felt is fun

Yo! We’re back with the next installment of tantalising tales, superb sightings and exciting events. We’ve had a bit of a busy one here since I left you last. We’ve held our stall at a few more shows and fun days, got ourselves all excited planning the next lot plus we’ve practically had dolphins coming out of our ears.

I left you just before we were setting off to Deep South Festival in the last blog and pickle my gherkin, did it go well. Despite the atrocious weather on the first day, we danced and sang our way through the rain to keep our spirits up and made our presence well and truly known in the festival field. Our trusty gazebo survived the gale force winds and kept our absolute stunner of a stall dry and therefore all the more enticing to the passing damp public. Over the two days we spoke to tons of lovely people and even got to boogie on down to some funky music in between which is always a winner in my books. Along with that, the delicious coffee from Flo’s van and the blinding puns on the taco man’s menu I’d say the whole weekend was a stonker.

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just pure class

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Tom’s expression is that of a man who was almost defeated by a gazebo

Following that, we also made an appearance at the Ramsey Fun Day plus another event in Ramsey that was organised by DEFA in celebration of the marine reserve surrounding the bay. Both went equally well and over the three events we made a total of £153.29 which certainly puts a wee smile on my boat race (that’s cockney rhyming slang for face if there are any non-southerners out there. I felt the great North was missing the Danny Dyer element so I’m bringing it back.)

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our stall looking swish at the Ramsey Marine Reserve event

At the beginning of National Whale and Dolphin Watch Week, which took place from the 23rd to the 31st July, we also held a corporate event at the Sound following a request from Hopes and Dreams Nursery. Unfortunately I couldn’t join them as I was working at the pub so I was gutted when I found out I had missed out on a spectacular sighting of 50+ Bottlenose dolphins. They were very far out from the shore but the group got an ace view of them as they breached the waves and danced through the water, ending a splendid evening. Bottlenose are usually only seen in the winter months on the Isle but over the last few summers there have been more and more sightings in our waters. We use photos to identify individuals, as each dorsal fin is unique to it’s dolphin and it has been confirmed that several of these summer sightings are part of the population usually resident in Cardigan Bay, Wales. We can’t know for certain exactly why these pods are moving around more than usual but dolphins generally travel to follow their food source so the fish around the isle’s coasts must be more abundant than previous years.

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this is who I spend my time with. Send help.

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impressive evening sky at the Sound

We’ve also had a jolly load of Risso’s dolphins spotted lately. They’ve been seen from several locations spanning from the south west, all the way round the bottom half of the island and up to the south east. Our team were on a land-based survey at Niarbyl this week and we were treated to a pod of 10, feeding and foraging for the majority of the 3 hour stint, with the added delight of  some breaching and head slapping occurring. This was mega exciting as they were fairly close in at first but my Risso’s highlight so far was definitely last week at Port St Mary when I saw one breach for the first time in my life. Although the small group was incredibly far out in the distance, it was a very clean leap, with it’s entire body well out of the water and I could do nowt but splutter and squeal in excitement, almost choking on my fruit salad.

Our most important and hold-onto-your-boots-electrifying news to date is the long awaited arrival of our new boat. WE’VE GOT A BOAT!! And what a beauty it is. After our fair share of hurdles but with the assistance of several fantastic people along the way we’ve finally got our pride and joy in Peel. I cannot wait to get it out on the big blue for some surveys once the weather starts looking up and we have grand schemes for public tours in the eventual future.

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proper top lads Combine, Joe and Tom on arrival in Peel

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practicing our spotting from the boat skills

So that’s been a full recount of the thrills from the past couple weeks, now to look to the vast and mysterious future. Well, it’s not that mysterious but fairly planned out and prepared, to be frank. We’ll have our stall at Peel Carnival this weekend, which we’re all looking forward to. It’s always enjoyable to have events in our wonderful hometown of Sunshine City, with all the recognisable faces and friends swinging by, even with the ever lingering Peel smell of kippers and queenies. I also have spectacular visions that it will basically be a Manx alternative to Notting Hill Carnival and I am expecting nothing less. The weekend after that is a big ‘un and we’ve begun preparations in the office. We’ll be at the Royal Manx Agricultural Show in Patrick on the 12th and 13th August for the full two days. This will be the biggest event we will attend this year and me and Jen have been busy getting crafty to expand our merchandise so please do come and say hello and have a skeet, it will make us very smiley. Then on the Sunday we’ll be at the Friends of the Earth Beach Day in Port Erin so it’ll be a stonker of a weekend for us.

We’ve also been discussing ideas to fill the gap after the summer’s antics and me and Jen are designing a children’s workshop to take place at the end of autumn. We have been brainstorming our socks off and have come up with five sessions, combining cetacean education and fun craft activities. Looking at the ideas we’ve jotted down so far, if I could attend it I definitely would, it sounds awesome, even if I do say so myself.

A couple weeks ago we experienced what I believe to be the hottest day ever recorded on planet Earth that seemed to arrive out of the blue and startled me to say the least. The only thing to do in this panic inducing and unsettling situation was to take some ciders and an ice cream down to Fenella beach to calm ourselves down. After the factor 50 had been heavily applied to my forever rosy nose and overly tanned knees I attempted my first Manx paddle, heavily misled by the sweltering sunshine. It was ice. Actual ice. It may look as blue and inviting as the Mediterranean Sea but I managed to get halfway up my shins before my toes went numb. I threw my hands up and said “I’m out” before staggering across the scallop shells and plopping back down in the sand to moan about how “it’s nice to have a summer but this is just too much”. We then preceded to melt outside the Creek, too hot and bothered to make conversation with each other, drowning our sweaty and dehydrated woes in the sort of drinks that only ever seem to come out with the sun. Alas, the next morning the thunder and lightning cleared the heat and another pocket of Manx summertime was over yet again.

So that’s me over and out once again. Until next time, here is a peculiar insect and another blinding joke.

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proper mental sea bug thing

What is a whale’s favourite TV show?

THE FLUKES OF HAZZARD

Arrivederci Annie, Ciao Chris!

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MWDW team 2016

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks here at Dolphineer HQ. Unfortunately the weather has not been playing ball at all so we’ve had rare occasion to get out and survey. I didn’t quite believe everybody when they told me that you can experience all of the seasons in one day on the isle but after the past few days I’ve learnt that I really ought to bring at least two jumpers, sunglasses, suncream, a raincoat, a scarf, a pair of spare socks, plus shorts if I’m wearing jeans and vice versa before I leave the house of a morn. Only today did I get completely soaked down to the bone on my walk to the office and shivered my way through the afternoon until this very point when I’m stretched out in the office yard, steaming off my damp clothes in the brilliant sunshine. It is just ridiculous.

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a washed up dogfish found on the beach in Peel

The two most important updates since I last entertained you with my nonsensical chatter are that we very reluctantly said goodbye to one of our team but very happily welcomed back a familiar face from last summer. Chris has joined our ranks once again, after he volunteered as a Dolphineer in 2015 and Annie has sadly left us for sunnier climes as she has been offered a paid role in Malaysia. I can’t remember her actual job title because I was too busy sulking and preparing myself for the mourning period but I do know it’s big and important and something to do with saving turtles. The sly fox actually got herself head-hunted for it which is a serious success for such a wee young lass in the extremely competitive world of conservation employment. So, yeah, I suppose I’m well happy for her cos’ she’s alright really. Happy but not yet forgiving.

One of the good things about this terrible development was that we decided to have a staff jolly on Annie’s last day as a salute and farewell. We started the trip with an amble through Glen Mooar which was un-bloomin-believable. I felt like I was in some sort of secret pixie garden stomping through the leafy, emerald trees and when we got to the waterfall I was completely beside myself with joy. I immediately rolled up my jeans and slipped my sandals off for a paddle. Mainly because I had previously sunk into a gloopy muddy swamp and needed to wash my filthy feet but also because I was pretending to be some form of forest nymph, gaily scampering over the rocks and giggling coquettishly in the stream.

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Glen Mooar

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daredevil litter picking on the slippery rocks

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this will become the cover image for our first album

Once we’d all had our fill of this fairy wonderland, taken enough arty-farty macro photographs to fill the Albert Hall and I’d promptly fallen over and got mud all up my leg and backside in true Lydia-style, we hopped back into the car and skidded over to Close Sartfield to marvel at the HUNDREDS of orchids there. Unfortunately I’d forced us to make an emergency stop for icecreams on the way which compromised the time we could spend roaming the fields but I tell you, it was certainly impressive. We had orchids coming out of our ears, I’ve never seen so many all together. Such little delicate beauties, they are.

The last stop was by far my favourite, skulking through The Curraghs. There is a population of wallabies living here due to an escapee situation along with a hen harrier roost not far away. Admittedly, until this day I thought a wallaby looked a bit like a koala bear (move over David Attenborough, Lydia Wild is the hottest conservationist in town) so I already had a very slim chance of spotting one, seeing as I was looking out for a completely different animal but by this point I’d had so much sugar and excitement I was on a whole other planet anyway. We didn’t see any. Apparently you have to be quiet and still so as not to scare them off. I struggle with this at the best of times and me and Annie were as graceful as Shrek and Princess Fiona, clumsily stacking it over the roots and bumping into trees whilst trying to suppress hysterical giggles and not using our inside voices at all. It was beautiful, wallaby presence or not. I likened it to the Hobbits walking through the woods in The Shire when the Ring-wraiths are after them. No one seemed to get it but it definitely added to the extreme thrill in my little noggin. We finished the mega day with a session of dignified and glamorous wine tasting around Peel (spirit-fueled pub crawl) and ended up hosting a dinner event at home (wound up having an after-party in our kitchen). It was grand. WE MISS YOU ANNIE APPLE.

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EXACTLY like The Shire

As I mentioned before, the weather has not been on our side recently so we’ve only managed to get out on a couple surveys but the one that I was present for was pretty fair as they go. Me and Sarah plonked ourselves down at The Sound on a chilly and grey morning, readily armed with cups of strong coffee and tomato soup. The shift was proving rather uneventful and I was beginning to daydream of warm socks and windproof jumpers until I switched my gaze from the seemingly empty sea to have a gander at what the seals were up to on the rocks. And by heck was I glad my mind did wander because right there, between us and the Calf was the closest porpoise I’ve seen yet. It was moving quickly but it surfaced a good three or four times before bombing out of sight to the other side of the miniature island. I was well chuffed. Now, many people have often said, as I’m sure you’ll all agree, porpoises are exactly like buses. Not because people pay to ride on them, and not even because they often smell a bit like wee and have old chewing gum stuck to them but for the simple reason that you don’t see any for ages and then all of a sudden two come along. OR MAKE THAT 2.5. Not long after this first sighting, I spotted another fin on the other side of the bay. It was swimming fairly fast towards the east and it was not alone. After the first surface I immediately realised that there was a tiny second fin sticking close to the far side of the adult. IT’S A WEE BAIRN!! A little babby porpoise, my first calf sighting. Good stuff. Unfortunately, after all this to-do we were forced to leave as a dense fog descended over the point, almost swallowing the Calf whole and rendering us useless as surveyors because we could barely see the shore, let alone the rest of the big blue. It did make for some fancy photographs though, although my grainy old camera cannot do it justice.

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the fog descends on The Calf

Other than these two delightful events, it’s been business as usual in the office. I’ve had a second attempt at making a bench for the office yard, lest we have to actually stand when we sunbathe (I have all my priorities sorted). To be honest, there wasn’t much improvement from the first attempt and after whacking the hammer into my shin, almost sawing my thumb off (Dad, if you’re reading this please don’t have a heart attack. I’m all about woodwork safety) and very nearly smashing the yard up in a strop I decided to give it a rest for a bit until I get a responsible and slightly more knowledgeable assistant to instruct me. Apparently I’m not a carpenter, nor am I a handy man and I need strong supervision when using heavy tools and sharp objects.

We have also been prepping for our upcoming public events. The next one will be this very weekend when we will be running a stall at The Deep South Festival in Colby. We’ve replenished our pebble stocks for the always popular ‘Paint Your Own Pebble’ table and I’ve taken extreme care to update our recent sightings whiteboard with my neatest hand-writing which is easier said than done when you’re left-handed, cack-handed and using very smudge-able materials. So please do just give me a wee thumbs up or even a pat on the back if you visit our gazebo. I’d appreciate it.

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it is physically impossible for us to just smile

Peace out fellow dolphin fans. Don’t go changing to try and please me, yeah?

What does a philosophical dolphin think about?

THE PORPOISE OF LIFE. OH YEAH, THEY JUST KEEP GETTING BETTER.

Mad Sunday? MORE LIKE MENTAL SUNDAY.

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Lydia suffering from post-Mad Sunday trauma

Due to increasingly popular demand and endless letters from our hysterical fans, we’re spoiling you with another poetic piece to make up for the lengthy absence between our first and second blog posts. Hold onto your boots for tantalising tales of Mad Sunday in Peel and as promised, a complete recollection of our sea adventures on our first boat survey.

So, boats are cool. Being on them is even cooler. Being on them and seeing cetaceans and whales is just throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air-in-an-excitable-rave cool. It could of been cooler but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get my pirate outfit together in time, letting myself down and ruining all of my dreams. We left Peel breakwater on a marvelously sunny Sunday morning. I obviously had a hangover, it being any given day of the week so was momentarily more fixated on my Spar pasty and orange juice, hiding behind my sunglasses. Then, through my bleary eyes, I glanced up from the moored boat and saw how amazing Peel Castle looked, towering over the horizon and along with the wide stretch of sandy beach along the prom I thought “Cor’ blimey guv’nor, this is my actual home. And it is WELL pretty”. As my good fellow Mick Shipman, played by the commendable actor Larry Lamb – another close friend of mine – would say; “bootiful that is, booooootiful.”

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Peel Castle and Fenella Beach drifting away from us

AND OFF WE GO. As we glided over the glossy sea, I gawked at the gulls and guillemots as they gallivanted amongst the frothy wavelets. It was ace, mate. To be honest, I was more than happy to just be out in the middle of the sea, facing the salty breeze and staring at the big blue but the first sighting we had was definitely a game-changer. Jen shrieked something indecipherable, pointing ahead of her. I jumped up with the video camera at the ready as Tom translated; “MINKE! THERE’S A MINKE WHALE!”. It was well close, I probably could have spat on it. Not that I would ever spit on a whale. I could not believe how big it was. The ‘footstep’ it left behind on the surface after it dove back down was incredible, there were definitely some choice words of excitement exchanged between us as we quickly redirected the boat to try and catch up with the magnificent beast. We managed to spot it resurface a couple more times but it was getting further and further away so we decided to leave it be, not wanting to harass it, and changed our course.

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Stinky Minke

Shortly thereafter, we came across a pod of porpoises acting very strangely indeed between The Calf and Chicken Rock. Because they were so active, we immediately assumed they were Short-beaked Common dolphins but as a matter of actual fact, we were wrong. They were swimming at a rate of knots and surfacing erratically, all over the shop. Normally shy and reserved creatures, this was quite queer.

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#relationshipgoals #whowearsitbetter #jazzyjenandthefelceprince

After this, the sea became too rough to survey efficiently so we decided to head back to Peel, via a seabird colony just off the headland. There were hundreds of gulls, guillemots and razorbills but the highlight for sure was my first ever puffin sighting. I very nearly tumbled off the boat in my haste to keep it in my binoculars and it was only Tom grabbing the back of my jumper that saved my precious life. WHAT A GRAND TOUR.

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the seabirds’ kingdom

Right, Sunday 5th May, just like any day of the summer, yeah? The sun was beaming down, the birds were chirping, Lydia The Great was nursing a minor hangover and a severe case of disco-knees after dancing her socks right off to 3 Million in The Creek the night before; nothing out of the ordinary from any other weekend. ALAS, this was certainly not any other weekend. It was the morning of Mad Sunday, in which the entire population of the island and what seemed like half of Europe descended on Peel in their leathers, painting the town red and causing wonderful chaos from the Co-op to the castle to The Creek.

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Hangovers cast aside, the MWDW team trundled down to the promenade with a car full of stall paraphernalia to set up for the manic day ahead. Question: How many marine biologists does it take to put up the most ridiculously complex gazebo you’ve ever seen in your life? Answer: Well, four and the help of an impatient stranger who couldn’t bear to watch us struggle with the metaphysics of this strange new-world contraption any longer. Once we’d cleared that hurdle, we got our beautiful new banner up (that Lydia the Great ‘designed’, is far too proud of and now fancies herself as a professional graphic designer), laid out our goods (wink wink, nudge nudge) and waited for the crowds to descend. WHICH THEY COR’ BLIMEY DID.

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The entire world’s population descends on Peel

The day was definitely a success. From merchandise, donations and the kids’ craft corner, we made a tremendous £98.85, thanks to the crack-a-lackin’ public. Following several strops, Lydia The Great failed to produce more than four painted pebbles to sell so they were instead used as prototypes for the Paint Your OWN Pebble table in the craft zone. This was exceptionally popular, with some up and coming future Salvador Dali’s and René Magritte’s contributing their admirable efforts. Sazzy C upped her celebrity game and was interviewed by Manx Radio TT for their report from the frontline, telling them all about our fabulous work. She is now available to hire for celebrity endorsements – but please do come to me first if you require her new position as I haven’t discussed it with the woman herself yet. We were informed that a Basking Shark came to visit the frivolities too, spotted several times just off of Peel breakwater throughout the afternoon. The rest of the day passed in a blur; we spoke to so many lovely people, bigging up the ole cetacean business, I had far too much sugar and shed a single tear when I realised I wouldn’t have time to impress with my gymnastics on the bouncy castle, the gazebo came down just as easily as it went up, and the frenzy of Mad Sunday ended with myself and Sarah going delightfully insane during our evening shifts at our respective pubs, drowning in a sea of Guinness and plastic cups. We are still in recovery.

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Sunset over Peel Castle on the last day of TT

We will be back very soon (some say too soon) with the latest breaking news from the world of the Dolphineers, stay tuned for blurry recollections from our “Goodbye Annie, Welcome Back Chris” party and hopefully plenty more surveys and sightings to waffle on about. Peace out brother.

What kind of whale can fly?

A PILOT WHALE!!!

 

 

WE STILL LIKE DOLPHINS BUT NOW WE ALSO LIKE SHARKS

 

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Annie and Lydia surveying the pants off the Sound

It’s been a while since our last post, (I know, you’ve missed us) but butter my muffin have we been busy! As you may remember, in our aforementioned post we discussed our upcoming workshops around the Isle in order to increase our base of voluntary surveyors. A big thank you to the Manx Lottery Trust for our funding this project, the workshops went splendidly and we now have 55 new volunteers trained in the art of land-based surveying, with many already out and about collecting data for us! If you missed the workshops, do not fret, we’ll be holding some more in July after TT madness is over and we have all recovered. Keep checking our Facebook for updates!

Judging from Lydia The Great’s fantastically sunburnt knees, the weather in the past couple of weeks has proved that the Isle of Man is basically Ibiza (quality of nightlife, abundance of celebrities and pretty much everything else excluded). The water has been as smooth as the bonnet of a Porsche most days, and with the sun shining we have enjoyed several land-based surveys of late. Last week we spent a glorious morning at Marine Drive where we spotted a pod of 8 Risso’s Dolphins! This is the first proper sighting for Annie, Sarah and I which made it even more exciting and as my good friend Thom Yorke would say ‘for a minute there, I lost myself’. They were being very active, with lots of tail and head slapping as they cruised the waves, making them the highlight of the shift –  although they almost got beaten to the top spot by the scrum-diddly-umptious picnic one of our new volunteers, Brenda, brought along to the party. I tell you, offer me a dolphin sighting or eight, a pitta smothered in homemade hummus and a little bit of sun and I’m your gal.

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Brenda saving the day on Marine Drive…

At this point I didn’t think the day could get any better but BY JOVE DID IT. After our three hour stint was completed at Marine Drive we idled over to Niarbyl for the afternoon. I’d not been to our watch point there before and was marvelling over the stunning view as soon as I tumbled out the car. We set up camp and it wasn’t long before Harbour Porpoises were spotted feeding in the mouth of the bay. Always a delightful view for sure but, hold onto your mittens, what’s that large black triangular fin-like object moving slowly across the…no, could it be?! YES IT COULD. MWDW’s first sighting of a cor’ blimey Basking Shark this year!! We were able to gape at it for around an hour until it dipped back below the silvery water to find the next cloud of food. The more I learn about Basking Sharks, the more I realise they could be my soul animal. Their feeding technique is simply to hang in the current, using next to no energy at all and swim with their enormous mouths gawking wide open, waiting for the sea to push food in, no chewing, no knife or fork, no movement required. Ideal.

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Along with all of this knock-your-socks-off surveying we have also been educating the masses with a visit to the year 6 class at Dhoon School. Our Education Manager, Jen gave a presentation to very enthusiastic children about cetaceans and Basking Sharks and answered life’s important questions such as ‘have you ever seen a dolphin do a poo?’. They also showed us the artefacts and objet d’art and they had collected from the local beaches including a shell that was almost definitely a fossilised alien brain and no one can convince me otherwise. We took a 30 metre surveyors tape measure out into the playground and marked the length of each cetacean with chalk on the floor and I think I was as surprised as the children when I realised how big they all are. Even a Harbour Porpoise, being one of the smallest at 1.5 metres baffled me so you can imagine how much my brain imploded when we measured the Blue Whale. I just, I can’t even.

We also became Peel’s top celebrities last week as we made an appearance on BBC News North West Tonight during their piece about the Isle of Man. (Mum, I have finally made it. I told you I would). We met them at Niarbyl as it is for sure one of the most beautiful locations on the island and they interviewed Jen whilst myself and Sarah did some stellar acting in the background. Unfortunately, if any of my fans missed it, it has now disappeared into the Beeb Archives but Annie got her Steven Spielberg on and filmed the whole thing for the cutting edge documentary she will be producing at the end of the summer so you can all look forward to that little nugget of joy. Until then, here is a photo of us post-BBC filming. We were attempting to portray our feeling of success but instead we look quite furious, I think the fame had gone to our heads at this point.

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With our Chairman, Ian Wilcock

Stay tuned for our next blog post in which we will tell you tales of our first expedition conducting a boat-based survey. Definitely spent the majority of the time pretending I was a pirate. 

Over and out you wonderful reader(s).

 

p.s. How could the dolphin afford to buy a house?

HE PRAWNED EVERYTHING.

WE LIKE DOLPHINS.

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Yo, a new pod of dolphineers has arrived for another summer of surveying on the Isle. The newbies include Annie Appleton, Sarah Carson (Sazzy C) and LYDIA WILD THE GREAT, with Chris returning for another year to complete the quartet . We’ve been here for almost two weeks and are loving life in Peel; the locals are ace, the kippers are smelly and The Creek is the centre of the earth.

Our first day working involved cleaning out our offices, with the two of us concentrating particularly on decorating the rooms with posters and baubles. We arranged all of the fieldwork equipment and education supplies to the sound of delightful 80’s ballads. Afterwards, we began our training in the masterful art of data entry, which twisted my melon right up. There are a few complicated formulas needed to calculate different tides – especially around the Sound and Niarbyl, as well as latitudes and longitudes to figure out and by the end of the session, my brain was so full of numbers I couldn’t see anymore. However, it was quite therapeutic and I’m sure within weeks it will be a second nature to us.

The next day we set out to Port St Mary for our first land-based survey, and ahoy, there! what do we spy through our binoculars but our first Harbour Porpoise! All jokes aside, it was incredible to see our first cetaceans in Manx waters and we had 11 sightings recorded by the end of the shift. Neither of us had seen a porpoise before and I think our overexcited squeals may have scared away some nearby dogs. Several of the passing public had also not spotted a cetacean in Manx waters before and we enjoyed sharing the experience with them, and enlightening them on these amazing species! We hope that after our FREE PUBLIC WORKSHOPS this weekend, more of the islanders will be keen to learn how to ID whales and dolphins and join us in surveying on the (maybe not so) sunny cliffs.

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The following day we headed out to the Sound where the porpoises were feeling particularly pesky! The few that we saw quickly disappeared, simply taunting us with a glimpse of their dorsal fins before heading off back into the icy depths. Although elusive, they were actually hanging round the area feeding and Sue and Bill, two of our most enthusiastic local spotters were watching them for around three hours. Plus, Lydia Wild The Great was pleased to see a kestrel and a harrier hunting around the bay, and the seals provided much entertainment.

On Monday, the island was hotter than Ibiza (that is a definite fact), alas the weather was not quite suitable for surveying as the sea was not calm enough due to the fairly heavy winds. In light of this, we had Craft Day in the office yard; collecting and painting pebbles, that we will be selling on our stalls over the summer. First come, first served. Michelangelo move over.

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On Tuesday we walked along Marine Drive searching for Risso’s dolphins as a few have been spotted there recently. Just as we were about to give up hope, we were treated to a peep of a fin emerging from the waves before it slipped back below the surface and round the bay. We scoured the sea and cruised the cliffs but it did not return for a second sighting. However, on the walk back to the car we spotted a pair of Peregrines as they shot out of the rocky cliff below us, screeching to the high heavens. So that was a jolly day.

That’s the end of our first blog post and a summary of our first experiences with MWDW and the island itself. It’s going to be a good summer.

Oh and by the way, what is a cetacean’s favourite tv show?

WHALE OF FORTUNE.YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT.

Annie and Lydia, over and out. *drops mic, lights fade, curtains fall, standing ovation*

 

 

 

 

My Last Blog Entry

Hi everyone, this is Chris with my sixth and final entry in the diary of a dolphineer. I have spent four amazing months working for Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch in the beautiful Isle of Man. I have been here for four months although the time seems to have flown by.

I have had some incredible experiences from seeing Puffins for the first time to having a juvenile Minke whale surface 2 metres away from me. I have learnt a lot about the Isle of Man and its history and culture. I will miss being here, but I am hoping to return next year to volunteer again. Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch has taught me so much about marine mammal science and the value of having whales, dolphins and porpoises around the island especially Risso’s dolphins.

The beginning of my journey home!

The beginning of my journey home!

I cannot thank Tom and Jen enough for inviting to come and work with them and be a part of this brilliant organisation. I also cannot recommend Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch highly enough, to any other future volunteers. If you love cetaceans and want to learn more about marine mammal science through first hand experience in the British Isles, then Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch in the Isle of Man is definitely one of the best places to go!

Thank you very much for everyone who has been reading our blogs this year, I hope to continue writing next year.

As always thank you for reading!

Chris