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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 April, 2005, 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK
Study spots hundreds of dolphins
Dolphins pictured off the coast at Cullercoats, North Tyneside
A project to study whales and dolphins off the North East coast has sighted 614 animals in just 12 months.

Newcastle University's Dove Marine Laboratory at Cullercoats carried out the study.

White beaked dolphins were the most frequently-sighted species, including one sighting of a school of around 250 dolphins 25 miles off Cullercoats.

The purpose of the study was to encourage people to make suggestions for the management of coastal waters.

Joanna Stockill, who led the project, said: "Whales and dolphins are protected under international and European regulations, but we want to find out if anything can be done on a local scale.

Different species

"That is why we are asking people who use the sea on a regular basis to come up with ideas for raising awareness of the presence of whales and dolphins in the local environment."

Some of the suggestions put forward include installing information boards on Blyth promenade showing the species that can be seen off the coast, producing leaflets for distribution in libraries and other public places, such as supermarkets, and preparing education packs for use in schools.

The study recorded sightings of six different species in an area stretching from North Northumberland to Whitby in North Yorkshire.

The species recorded were harbour porpoise, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, risso's dolphin, long-finned pilot whales and the white-beaked dolphin.

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