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Watch out for dolphins pleads group

PUBLISHED: 06:10 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:10 06 July 2010

Conservationists are calling on beachcombers and birdwatchers to keep a weather eye out for porpoises.

Marine wildlife group Sea Watch organises a whale and dolphin watch week every summer, during which people are asked to pass on details of sightings.

Conservationists are calling on beachcombers and birdwatchers to keep a weather eye out for porpoises.

Marine wildlife group Sea Watch organises a whale and dolphin watch week every summer, during which people are asked to pass on details of sightings.

The charity, which campaigns to preserve marine mammals, says the data helps it build up a picture of the creatures' distribution around our coasts. Sightings of harbour porpoises have been reported on almost 50 occasions in Norfolk over the last year, from Hunstanton to Mundesley.

Naturalist Dave Powell, who spends hours scanning the seas off the county's beaches, said conditions had to be right for the best chance of seeing one of the animals.

"It's got to be pretty flat calm, if you get the wind blowing and waves coming in you won't see them," he said. "You need calm, warm conditions - from April until September is the best time to see them. If it's really calm and warm, they'll just swim around on the top and bask in the sun. They seem to be easier to find between Weybourne and Yarmouth; as you get into The Wash they're further out because it's shallower, so they're harder to see."

Porpoises have to surface every three or four minutes to breathe air through their blow holes. Over the last year the animals, which resemble a small dolphin, have been seen at locations including Hunstanton, Titchwell, Weybourne, Sheringham, Bacton, Kessingland and Pakefield.

Mr Powell will be taking part in National Whale and Dolphin Watch from July 18-26. He is appealing for other whale watchers to send him details of any sightings.

"By recording sightings of harbour porpoises and other marine mammals, such as bottlenose dolphins, we are able to better understand their distribution and their numbers, and that helps to develop conservation policies that will help protect them from pollution, over-fishing and even leisure craft," he said.

Mr Powell can be contacted on 07887 705754 or via dp.shearwaters@googlemail.com

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