Bottlenose dolphins spotted by university research team

The St Andrews University team spotted the mammals off the Fife Coast and in the River Tay.

Bottlenose dolphins spotted by university research team

Two groups of bottlenose dolphins have been spotted by a surveying team from St Andrews University.

The team, who had to pause research due to the coronavirus pandemic, spotted the mammals at the Tay Estuary near Tayport and another group between Crail and Anstruther in Fife.

Surveys of the dolphins have been carried out between May and September each year since 1989 by the Sea Mammal Research Unit, which has been based at the St Andrews since 1996, and Aberdeen University.

Researchers are able to identify individual dolphins by the nicks or notches on the trailing edge of their dorsal fin, allowing them to estimate survival, birth rates, trends in population and to document the movements of individual animals.

Research has previously identified an expansion of the dolphins’ range from the core area in the Moray Firth in the 1990s where there is a designated Marine Protected Area, south to the Tay Estuary and around Fife.

Recent years have seen an increase in sightings in the Firth of Forth and even as far south as the North East English coast this year. 

New research to investigate this apparent latest range expansion is being initiated this year.

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