When it comes to marine life research, as well as working close with ferry companies to carry out survey work, MARINElife partners with other organisations, to collate information on species and habitat usage, and to provide important data for the establishment of future protected areas. One such collaboration is the North East Cetacean Project (NECP).
The North East Cetacean Project was founded in 2009 by MARINElife and Northern Experience Wildlife Tours (NEWT), with financial support from Natural England, and the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club, with the aim of determining the status of cetaceans, particularly White-beaked Dolphin, off the coast of north-east England, through a combination of targeted transect surveys and citizen science, with the public invited to contribute their own cetacean sightings.
Nearly nine years on from the start of the project it's still going strong, with transect surveys still being carried out from commercial pelagic wildlife trips, and with excellent support from the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.
It's been a busy summer for the NECP, with 14 transect surveys since late June that have produced a total of 7 Harbour Porpoises, 12 Minke Whales, 13 Bottlenose Dolphins, and 100 White-beaked Dolphins, with several of the White-beaked Dolphins being individuals that have been photographed previously off the Northumberland coast.
Dr Martin Kitching is NEWT's Director, and MARINElife's North East Regional Officer. "It's been an incredible few months for the NECP, and we're looking forward to many more years of leading the way in photo-identification of White-beaked Dolphins in the North Sea, as well as developing regular seabird surveys off our coastline too."
All images © Martin Kitching: www.northernexperiencepelagics.co.uk