MARINElife launch campaign for Bottlenose dolphins and globally endangered Balearic Shearwaters

Press release   •   Jun 22, 2015 14:30 BST

MARINElife today launch their crowdfunding campaign to raise £6,000 towards the cost of a unique and exciting plan to survey the coastline of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall for these protected species in just one day! On 18th August dozens of MARINElife volunteers aboard 9 charter boats along with many more volunteers based on cliff tops will complete the largest survey of its kind protected Bottlenose dolphins and the globally endangered seabird, the Balearic Shearwater in the south west.

Launched on the national crowdfunding website the project aims to raise the funds in just 40 days.

Dr. Rachel Davies, MARINElife’s Conservation Research Manager said ‘This is one of the most exciting projects we have planned this year and is vital to truly understanding how many bottlenose dolphins live and breed in the waters of the south west. MARINElife have catalogued and photographed over 100 different animals over the last few years but only over a limited area. Completing a full survey in a single day enables us to get a real understanding of their numbers and distribution over the whole of the south west and work more effectively for their protection’.

The survey is also targeting what is Britain’s only globally endangered seabird, the Balearic Shearwater. Just a few thousand breeding pairs of these birds remain in the world and each summer 1000 or more birds migrate from the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean up the west coast of France, crossing the channel before working their way around the south west coast. They rely on the rich feeding in our coastal waters at a time when they are moulting and the south west offers them a critically important habitat at this stage of their annual migration.

Tony Whitehead, speaking for the RSPB in the South West said; “The RSPB are delighted to support this campaign. The information collected, including by RSPB staff and volunteers, on 18 August will help us find out so much more about the population of Balearic shearwaters that use UK waters, especially in summer. This is the UK’s only globally critically endangered bird and it’s vital we learn about its habits, migrations and the places it favours so that we can afford the species proper protection.“

Each boat will carry up to 12 surveyors and passengers with the first boat launching from Portland in Dorset with the remaining 8 boats launching from various ports along the coast. The survey will extend up to Ilfracombe in North Devon and include Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. Additionally, volunteer surveyors with binoculars and spotting scopes will monitor the coastline from cliff tops at strategic sites around the south west.

The project has already gathered great momentum and as well as the support of the RSPB who are contributing to the survey costs, MARINElife’s patron Maya Plass and film company Big Wave TV have produced and donated the fundraising video for the charity. 


Issued by MARINElife.

For further information: Andrew McLeish Tel: 01297 489810

Dr. Rachel Davies: Tel: 01460 419043

Notes for Editors:

Images of bottlenose dolphin and Balearic shearwater available on request. Please e-mail

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates): This species is listed on Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive making this a European ‘priority species’ for protection. Annex II status require Special Areas of Conservation (SAC’s) to be created for the species. UK examples include Cardigan Bay SAC and Moray Firth SAC. In 2015 a new management unit for the coastal west Channel was designated by JNCC for this species which will ensure the dolphins in this area will be considered as a separate population from other populations in the UK.

Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus): Listed on Annex I of the EC Birds Directive and currently part of a review to consider designation of Special Protection Area’s (SPA’s) for this species. Listed on the IUCN red list as critically endangered.

About MARINElife

MARINElife is a charity which was established to co-ordinate and to develop a growing portfolio of whale, dolphin and seabird research and monitoring projects. Through scientific investigation and education we aim to further the conservation of the wildlife of our coasts and seas.

The core work of MARINElife since 1995 has been in researching the distribution, abundance and population trends for whales, dolphins and seabirds from commercial vessels in the Channel, Bay of Biscay, North Sea, Irish Sea and beyond. Volunteers play a crucial role in helping collect scientific data on the current status of such animals. This in turn helps MARINElife to recommend how to best conserve their populations to policy makers.