It’s been a great spring for sightings of Risso’s dolphins in Manx waters.
There have already been 24 sightings of Risso’s this year, more than the rest of the British Isles combined.
The first sighting of the year was on March 17 and there has been a steady stream of sightings reported by the public ever since.
A large pod of the dolphins was spotted off Marine Drive last week.
And the Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch group are urging people to report their sightings.
Risso’s dolphins (species name Grampus griseus) are one of the least commonly seen dolphin species in European waters.
This is due to their preference for deep seas, between 600 metres and 1,000 metres, which are often found far from land, in the continental shelf slope waters.
Manx waters themselves rarely exceed 100 metres depth, especially on the east side of the island, where the seas are rarely more than 40 metres deep.
So it is perhaps surprising then that Risso’s dolphins are the most commonly seen dolphin in Manx waters and the second most commonly seen cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise), after the harbour porpoise.
As has been the case in previous years (although not every year), all of the sightings have been on the east coast, between Groudle and Langness, particularly from Marine Drive, and have been so close to land that you can see their pale body underwater.
What is most exciting and unusual this year is that many of the groups reported have contained calves.
The calves have what are called foetal folds on their flanks (marks on the skin caused by birth), suggesting they were born over winter.
Risso’s dolphins are thought to give birth during the spring and summer, when there is more food around.
Perhaps, there is food at all times of year in Manx waters?
We urge the public to keep on reporting their sightings of this amazing and unusual species to us and of any other cetacean that is seen, either to our website (www.mwdw.net) or to our Facebook page (search for Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch).
Hopefully, it is a sign of a great summer for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises in Manx waters.