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Call for wildlife watchers to send bottlenose dolphin researchers pictures of sightings

© Terry Whittaker/Flpa/imageBROKERBottlenose dolphins breaching in the Moray Firth
Bottlenose dolphins breaching in the Moray Firth

Wildlife watchers are being asked to help researchers gain knowledge about bottlenose dolphins by sending photographs taken of the mammals spotted off the coast.

The Citizen Science project, launched by a team from the University of St Andrews, aims to help understand changes in movements of the dolphins along the east coasts of both Scotland and England.

This population of bottlenose dolphins has been monitored since 1989 via boat surveys every summer to find and photograph them in two main areas, the Moray Firth and the Tay Estuary including its adjacent waters of Angus and Fife.

The researchers use photographs to identify individual dolphins based on marks on their dorsal fins. Recent years have seen an increase in bottlenose dolphins in the Firth of Forth and as far south as the coast of northern England.

Dr Mònica Arso Civil said: “We have been monitoring this population of bottlenose dolphins for 30 years now, which has allowed us to follow individuals, sometimes from birth.”

Charlie Phillips, a field officer for Whale And Dolphin Conservation, has been photographing the dolphins for decades.

“They have a great sense of humour and it is still a real joy when they follow your boat,” he said.

The project’s website explains how people can submit their photographs.