We focus our research at the Berry Head National Nature Reserve located in Brixham, Torbay. Berry Head is a popular nature, tourist and dog-walking spot and is home to many stunning species such as the cirl bunting, greater horseshoe bat, and the UK's most southern colony of guillemots. In addition to the species found on land, many marine species can be sighted from the main headland in the coastal waters below. Short-snouted common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins can be sighted quite frequently, but our research focuses mainly on the harbour porpoises of Berry Head, which are frequent visitors to the area. We also frequently spot grey seals, and historic sightings have proven that Risso's dolphins, humpback whales, basking, and thresher sharks sometimes visit.
The coastal waters off Berry Head (regularly used by porpoises) are located within the Torbay Marine Conservation Zone (TMCZ), however, the porpoises are not currently included within the TMCZ framework. With ongoing research, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the porpoises in the area so that we may better protect them. This includes the continued data collection of animal behaviour, environmental factors, and anthropogenic impacts. Make sure to follow us on Facebook for regular updates on our research!
We don't just collect data on porpoise behaviour. We are trained to record data on deceased, stranded cetaceans. All collected data is shared with the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme (CSIP).
This data is essential as it allows us to build a picture of how cetaceans are threatened and sometimes allows us to determine the cause of death.
When we are called out to a stranding, we take measurements, log any injuries or physical trauma and when possible, log the sex of the animal. We then share with CSIP who add the information to their national database.