On the 10th March the well-known, and extremely well-travelled dolphin, Clet, was photographed off Balaclava Bay, Portland, by Steve Belasco. This particular lone dolphin is interesting because he has covered a fair amount of water recently, making headlines along the way. It is believed he originates from France, where he was named Clet by Brittany residents back in 2008. So far his journey has taken him from France, along the South of England to Ireland's east coast (where he made his dislike of direct human contact clear), over to Scotland, then down to the Isle of Man, before heading south to Dorset by way of Wales.
However, Clet isn't a rare visitor to southwest waters. Clet, aka Nobby, aka George II, aka Hobnob, is well known to MARINElife through our extensive research on Bottlenose Dolphins in the English Channel. He is one of several sociable dolphins to have visited English Channel ports in recent years, gaining his numerous aliases as he's gone.
MARINElife have a catalogue of individual Bottlenose Dolphins comprising 118 individuals, made recognisable by body marks and dorsal fin damage. Clet's ragged fin makes him very recognisable, allowing us (and other interested groups) to track his journey. He's been a frequenter of Falmouth Bay and Cornwall's waters since 2010, as well as having visited Plymouth Sound in 2013, where the animal is known as both Hobknob, and George II.
The name George II reflects the fact there is another well-known animal, Georges (also known as Randy), who has visited Dorset regularly in recent years, as well as numerous ports and harbours from Holland to Brittany. Georges and George II have never been seen together though and look very different. A further sociable animal, Dave, inhabited the Kent coast a few years back, though on closer inspection he turned out to be of the fairer sex. i.e. Dave was a 'she' rather than 'he'!
MARINElife is working in partnership with Marine Discovery and AK Wildlife Cruises to develop the catalogue of all known Bottlenose Dolphins on the English side of the Channel. Our continuing work shows that around 100 animals have visited the inshore waters of Devon, Cornwall, and Dorset in recent years; far more than previously thought. It is vital we monitor this nationally important population to better inform conservation efforts, so please report any sightings and send any images to us using. More information on how to do that can be found here.
Photo credit: Steve Belasco