Archive for June, 2010

So many dolphins…

Yesterday I decided to visit birds rock again to get some more bird footage.  However, I got rather distracted.  As soon as I got there, I spotted dolphins.  I was  going to still head on, until it leapt in the air!  As it turned out, my decision to stay was a good idea – I spent three hours sat in the same spot as dolphins continually foraged and played totally unaware of my presence.  And to make things even better, a seal turned up as well!  That was my best dolphin encounter so far.  That is, until today…

Grey Seal

My friend, the grey seal

Today was utterly incredible, and I will remember it always.  I just hope I don’t start taking further encounters like it for granted!

It was the first dedicated boat survey since I’ve arrived due to weather conditions and skipper availability.  On a dedicated survey, most of the Sea Watch team go out on Dunbar, and since we are collecting scientific data for conservation purposes, we have a different code of conduct to follow; aka we are allowed to change course to stay near the dolphins.  Aside from good data and photo ID, it results in lots of opportunity to film dolphins really close up.  I don’t know whether it’s just because we can stay with them longer, but they seem more happy to come up to the boat and jump around than near tourist boats.

Bow-riding juvenile

Bow-riding juvenile - not the best comosition, but look how close!

The boat left at 9am, but unfortunately I had to walk in for an hour today since my car-windscreen-chip is FINALLY being repaired. I hope.  I was a nice day for a walk, but it was along fast roads with no pavements, carrying two heavy rucksacks and a tripod! Once on the boat, we had a number of encounters (the first almost immediately), with there being around 14 dolphins at some points, swimming at the sides of the boat.  There was also some bow riding, and at one stage there were many of them leaping in the air.   I just hope the footage I got was good; it was definitely mind-blowing to watch.  Another success: we managed not to get hit by rockets being launched from the army base at aber-porth.

3 dolphin leap

3 dolphins leaping in sync. Incredible.

My First Week or so in Ceredigion

Well, I know I said I’d be updating the blog regularly whilst I’m here, but it’s proving a little difficult since I’m mainly restricted to phone internet (very useful to have, but extremely slow!) unless I use the Sea Watch computers out of office hours.

Boats in New Quay Harbour

Waves crashing on boats in New Quay Harbour

I’ve been here about a week and a half now and I absolutely love it.  To begin with the weather was a little blustery, and it was a while before I could get out on a boat since the sea state was too rough.  Plus the wind made getting any steady footage pretty much impossible … but the past few days have been amazing.  Wednesday and Thursday saw stunning sunshine and really calm sea.  I spent both mornings on the quay from 7/7.30am for a few hours then did two boat trips on Ermol 6 (a tourist boat that allows sea watch volunteers to come along)

Cormorant

Cormorant in between dives

Filming on a boat is proving a very interesting experience; I haven’t done much hand-held work before now, so having to hand hold my camera AND try to combat the rocking of the boat is rather difficult!  Practice practice practice…

Dolphin Fin

"Chris" ... the view of a dolphin I'm used to seeing!

It seems I’ve seen dolphins most days, with a dolphin named Chris being one I can count on to come into New Quay harbour so I can film her! The other morning I was lucky enough to see a couple of porpoise in the harbour; they tend to be more shy, and are much smaller than bottlenose dolphins.  In addition, if there are porpoises there won’t be dolphins since the dolphins tend to attack the porpoise due to the competition for food.   However a couple of dolphins turned up so we thought we’d be in for a bit of a scene.  Luckily for the porpoise they made a run for it so no drama.  I’ve seen a couple of seals (although they’re not above the water for long) and there are loads of different species of seabird here too; birds rock is just south of new quay and has fulmars, gulls, guillemots, razorbills and cormorants.  Plus gannets feed in the area.

Herring Gull Joining the Boat Trip

A herring gull joining the boat trip

I still have an awful lot of footage to get, but it seems to be going well!

Dissertation film with Sea Watch

Well my dissertation project is sorted and I am extremely excited!

Tomorrow I shall be packing up my car with all my camera equipment, and heading off on the 4-5 hour journey to New Quay (WALES, not Cornwall!) to spend 6 weeks filming.  I’ll be working with the Sea Watch Foundation (www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk) doing a 30 minute documentary regarding their research project on bottlenose dolphins.  Sea Watch are a marine charity focussing on the research and conservation of cetaceans around the UK.  As well as the bottlenose dolphins, hopefully I’ll also see some grey seals, harbour porpoises, as well as loads of other species of wildlife; depending on where the survey boats go, I may even be able to see some whales!

Bottlenose Dolphin

Token Image of a Bottlenose Dolphin (Not taken by me! Not in Cardigan bay!)

I can’t even describe how excited I am about this project – It’s such a fantastic opportunity to be able to work with Sea Watch, the subject matter is amazing, the scenery is stunning, and it will hopefully bring me closer to being able to specialize in conservation filmmaking some day!

Keep an eye on my blog to check up on my progress – I’ll be updating it with my adventures regularly (assuming I have the time!)

Another Video

I’ve  posted the film about Animals in Captivity to my vimeo account.  It was completed by myself and two of my coursemates at the end of last year; All shots were taken on location at both Chester Zoo and Twycross Zoo.

Camerawork: Katherine Dixon
Director: Mia Balashova
Sound & Music: Ellery Chu

Editing: K Dixon, M Balashova, E Chu.

Animals In Captivity

Animals In Captivity Film

Click the image above to be taken to my vimeo account, and watch the film.