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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

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Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

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Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...

Risso's dolphins caught on camera by WDC field team

WDC’s field team in the Outer Hebrides recently recorded this great video footage of Risso’s dolphins in the surrounding waters. 

Stomach contents from strandings data from a limited number of UK Risso’s dolphins shows that their primary prey is octopus. However, a recent report by scientists shows that the relationship between the observed distributions of Risso’s dolphins and octopus (Eledones cirrhosa) is not as clear cut as we might expect in Scottish waters.

Whilst it would make sense that important areas for octopus could be defined as ‘critical habitat’ for Risso’s dolphin, it has not been possible to determine that Risso’s dolphins prefer areas containing good numbers of octopus or use them with greater frequency than any other area. WDC believe that it’s most likely that this link cannot be made as the existing data are not detailed enough.

A larger Risso’s dolphin sightings dataset, including fine-scale data, is required to understand where this species occurs and especially where it is feeding. WDC is helping to fill this important data gap.

In addition to modelling the distribution of octopus, direct modelling for Risso’s dolphin habitat is required. As is the collection of more octopus and other important prey data distribution.

In the meantime, we know that the Isle of Lewis has always been one of the best places to see Risso’s dolphins in the UK. Our data is starting to show that the group sizes seen today are smaller than they were in the 1990s. MPA protection for Risso’s dolphins can’t wait for the collection of all this data – we have enough to be confident in this area of critical habitat.

If you would like to support MPAs for Risso’s dolphins and other Scottish whales and dolphins, please write a letter to the Scottish government.