Public asked to contribute to Isle of Wight marine mammal sightings

Members of the public are being encouraged to contribute to a new study on the marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals, which frequent the waters surrounding the Isle of Wight.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth are asking people to share details on the location of where marine mammals have been spotted around the Isle of Wight.

The aim of this study is to produce a map that will contain the possible areas which marine mammals may visit, using the accurate and up-to-date information provided in this survey, and to publish the findings as a Master’s of Science thesis and a journal research paper.

Dr Sarah Marley, a Lecturer in Marine Biology and Principal Investigator of the study, said: “Marine mammals play an important role in the ecosystem, but also face many threats to their survival. So it is important to understand where and when these animals are occurring around the Isle of Wight and the Solent. We know that harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, harbour seals and grey seals use this area – but otherwise, our information is pretty limited.

“By using local knowledge to create a map of historic marine mammal sightings, we will know how to best focus our future research efforts. This online survey is a crucial first step in developing a broader research program to study marine mammal ecology in this area.”

Robyne Castles, a student studying MSc Applied Aquatic Biology, said: “My Masters project aims to collate sightings data for marine mammals around the Isle of Wight. I would really appreciate it if people could tell me any details of when and where they have seen marine mammals in this area. It is okay if some of the details are a bit vague – every bit of information helps.”

You can contribute to the survey here.