We document patterns of distribution and relative abundance of marine megavertebrate fauna around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from a combination of aerial and boat-based surveying. Between January 2006 and November 2007, 20 aerial surveys were undertaken, comprising over 40 hours of on-effort flying time. In April to October of these years, 27 effort-corrected ferry surveys were also conducted from a passenger ferry travelling between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Opportunistic sightings were also logged by the crew members of the ferry and another vessel travelling regularly along the same route on 155 days. Ten megavertebrate species were sighted: basking sharks Cetorhinus maximus, sunfish Mola mola, common dolphins Delphinus delphis, harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, grey seals Halichoerus grypus, Risso's dolphins Grampus griseus, bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus, minke whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata, long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas and killer whale Orcinus orca. During aerial surveys, 206 sighting events of seven species were made, compared with 145 sighting events of eight species during ferry surveys and 293 sighting events of 10 species from opportunistic ship-board data collection efforts. Seasonal and spatial patterns in species occurrence were evident. Basking sharks were the most commonly-sighted species in the region and were relatively abundant throughout the estimated 5 km-wide strip of coastal waters covered by the aerial surveys, during spring and summer. Ferry surveys and opportunistic vessel-based sightings data confirmed that the distribution of surface-feeding aggregations of this species was largely around the coasts. Despite the limited scope of this study, it has provided valuable baseline data, and possible insights into the marine biodiversity of the region.
Marine Megavertebrates of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: Relative Abundance and Distribution
Title: Marine Megavertebrates of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: Relative Abundance and Distribution
December 01, 2012
Journal: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK
Publisher: Cambridge Journals
Leeney, R.; Witt, M.; Broderick, A.; Buchanan, J.; Jarvis, D.; Richardson, P.; Godley, B. (2012). Marine Megavertebrates of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: Relative Abundance and Distribution. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 92(8), 1823-1833.