Saturday, 9 September 2017

Dolphins lobby ASCOBANS

ASCOBANS Advisory Commission in session
Last week, the advisory committee of the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans [dolphins and small whales] in the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS) met in Le Conquet - a small village on the most northwesterly corner of France. Issues on the agenda included consideration of threats such as bycatch and conservation plans (and how to best take them forward). The meeting was hosted by the Parc Natural d'Iroise from its buildings on Pointe de Renards. 






Le Conquet is a handsome town wrapped around a harbour. It has some ancient stone built buildings which look as if they would have been stores and fortifications.

Today it is a fishing and ferry port, especially important for its crab catch, and it also welcomes the many tourists who come to watch the Atlantic winds drive through four seasons in a day!




A new building rather dominates the landscape in some views.

Lighthouse and concrete bunkers left from the 'Atlantic War'.
Fiona Read of WDC presenting reports on bycatch.
At this particular meeting something rather remarkable happened. Early on the third morning, delegates suddenly stood up from their seats and started to look excitedly out of the window of the meeting venue. The view looked over the main bay.

Delegates becoming excited!
Splashed and characteristic shapes on the water surface - sometimes called fluke-prints - showed that the local dolphin population had entered the bay.

Fluke-prints
Distant flecks of movement in the outer harbour. 


ASCOBANS delegates looking down into the bay.



The dolphins moved along the far side of the bay - occasionally leaping high and swimming fast, feeding!


Fast-moving dolphins kicking up tails of spray.

People gathered on the harbour wall opposite.

The end of a high leap. 






There were around twenty individuals including at least three calves.


a 'rooster-tail' of spray from a fast swimming individual.


The ferry to the neighbouring islands passes close by.

During the dolphins' visit , three small dolphin-watching boats launched. The word must have rapidly gone around the village and apparently the dolphins regularly visit. The boats did not chase the dolphins.



The dolphins circled around the bay finally coming close to the side from which we watched.

Mother and calf pair to the left.
And finally just a few photos from the older part of the town:












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