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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Delight at bay dolphin numbers
A bottlenose dolphin (picture: Noaa)
About 140 bottlenose dolphins are known to exist in Cardigan Bay
One of the largest groups of bottlenose dolphins seen for 20 years in Wales has been spotted in Cardigan Bay.

Wildlife experts recorded video footage of 60 animals during a survey in the bay, regarded as a bottlenose stronghold.

About 140 are estimated to exist off the Welsh coast but they are usually found in smaller groups of about 10.

Dolphin numbers have increased steadily since a European Union habitat protection order was placed on the bay.

Bottlenose dolphins are mostly found in Cardigan Bay and the Moray Firth in western Scotland.

But a survey last summer by the Sea Watch Foundation found that the animals existed along the length of the Welsh coast in smaller numbers.

It was an amazing sight
Steve Hartley of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre

Steve Hartley of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre said: "We spotted more than 60 bottlenose dolphins during a survey off New Quay on Sunday. My colleague Sarah Perry videoed the dolphins."

"It was an amazing sight - if the weather had been better we may have seen more. It must be the largest group of bottlenose dolphins seen in the bay in the last 20 years."

Mr Hartley said it was unusual to see such a large number of bottlenose dolphins together in one group.

"Some of the dolphins were quite boisterous, but others were quiet and calm. There were also mothers with calves - it was fantastic to see them all," he said.

Humpback whales

Mr Hartley said dolphin numbers in the bay suffered a few years ago. He said it was due to habitat destruction, pollution and falling fish numbers.

In August last year about 2,000 common dolphins were seen off the Pembrokeshire coast and days later a school of giant fin whales was observed in the Irish sea.

During the same month, humpback whales were spotted in Cardigan Bay.

Watch footage of the dolphins from the survey vessel

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