Finned, Flippered and feathered friends

 Dolphins in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay © Sarah Perry

I sit at my home office desk, looking out at a bright blue sky, not a cloud in the sky. It’s days like
these when the sun is shining, and the sea is flat calm that I really miss being out on the water in
Cardigan Bay.

Previously as a volunteer and now as part of my work with WTSWW I would ordinarily have been fortunate enough to spend time out on the water monitoring the marine wildlife that we see. This includes the internationally important population of bottlenose dolphins that we find off the Welsh coast, Atlantic grey seals, harbour porpoises as well as a multitude of seabirds nesting along the coastline. For me this is the first year since 2003 that I haven’t been able to do this. And it is the first year in almost 25 years that Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) hasn’t been able to collect vital marine monitoring data.

Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Ceredigion coastline © Sarah Perry

Although I am sure, the last few months during lockdown have provided some much needed respite for nature, in certain areas at least. It appears that wildlife has enjoyed some breathing space from human activity, less car and boat traffic and fewer people have meant that we could enjoy the bird song all around us without even trying and the sea around our coasts and around the world have been much quieter.

Seal in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Atlantic grey seal in Cardigan Bay © Sarah Perry

Having said that it’s not the case for all wildlife in all areas. In some parts of the world wildlife poaching has been rife in areas where the pandemic has led to reduced patrols and closer to home there has been a surge in anti-social behaviour on our nature reserves particularly since lockdown restrictions began to ease. It is also concerning the amount of litter that is starting to accumulate on our shores and beaches. Just when we were doing so well at becoming more environmentally aware, reducing our use of single use plastic, refusing, reusing, reducing and recycling we are having to consider using single use items such as face masks and gloves to remain safe and healthy and litter is once again appearing on the ground.

litter in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

litter in Cardigan Bay Copyright Sarah Perry

Concern also lies with the continued easing of lockdown, not only for our health and wellbeing but for the potential for disturbance. We must remember to be mindful of our surroundings once again and be particularly careful not to disturb wildlife. It’s important that we all play our part in helping to ensure wildlife remains undisturbed and our green and blue spaces remain litter free, as the phrase states “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs”.

When the time is right, I look forward to heading back out on the water to resume our long term marine wildlife surveys and to catching up with old finned, flippered and feathered friends!

The Covid-19 pandemic poses many threats to both humans and wildlife, conservation organisation like WTSWW struggle for funding. Looking after our natural world has become harder than ever during the pandemic please consider making a donation to support our marine conservation work now and for the future.

Dr Sarah Perry, Living Seas Manager, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales