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Unusual Marine life in Cardigan Bay

The Oceans of the world are a continuous circulating mass of water, joined together by the southern ocean and the unfrozen waters around the north pole. As a result those species that can tolerate cooler waters are found worldwide. Tropical species from the coral reefs of the Atlantic and the Pacific are unable to live in cool waters and maintain separate and distinct populations.
The waters of the North Atlantic circulate in a clockwise motion and warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico are sent to Cardigan Bay by the Gulf stream. With the advent of global warming, sea temperatures have increased and a number of tropical species have been observed in British coastal waters.

The huge Leatherback Turtle - largest by far of the sea turtles, has probably always been coming to Cardigan Bay in small numbers as the Irish sea represents the northern limit of its range.
The largest Leatherback Turtle ever recorded washed up in North Wales in 1998 measuring nearly 3 metres and weighing over 2,000 lbs.
A year later another decomposing Leatherback nearly 2 metres long was found on Newborough island beach on the Isle of Anglesey. 


A Kemp's Ridley Turtle, one of the world's rarest sea Turtles, was stranded alive on the Welsh coast. It was taken to St. David's Oceanarium in Wales before being returned to Mexico. 
A Minke Whale partially entangled in fishing net was observed off the coast of New Quay in 2003 . It reportedly has lacerations from the net as deep as the blubber - a layer of insulating fat just beneath the skin. A boat was launched by the RSPCA from Gwbert near Cardigan, but they were unable to make contact with the whale. 
The Minke whale is another species found in seas around the world and has been observed before in the Irish sea.

The Minke is the smallest of the Baleen whales - a group which includes the planet's largest animal, the Blue Whale. Like the Blue Whale, the Mike has a series of bony filters or baleen inside its mouth, which filters out plankton from the water. Its chief food is Krill - a large shrimp and shoals of small fish such as anchovies. When it opens its mouth to take in water, the skin over the lower jaw expands to vastly increase the available volume. For this to happen, the 'throat' is folded or ridged into 50 - 70 grooves. Minke whales in the northern hemisphere also have a distinctive white band on the flippers which is lacking in the race found in the southern hemisphere. The Minke either travels singly or in small pods of 2 or 3 animals. There are believed to be some 800,000 Minke Whales alive today.

 

 

The Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata ) is also known as the Lesser Rorqual or the Piked Whale. It is the smallest of the Rorqual Whales with a maximum size of about nine metres and a weight of seven tonnes or more. 

 

 

 

The Sunfish is a large, slow-swimming oceanic species. It is found worldwide in warm and temperate waters and grows to a very large size -as much as 9 feet across and weighing as much as 2,000 Kilos! It is often seen lying on its side as in the photo. Unusually its tail or caudal fin has been adapted into a 'clavus' or rudder. It has a tiny mouth with a parrot like beak and a small gill opening by the pectoral fin. 

 

 

 

The Sunfish is a large, slow-swimming oceanic species. It is found worldwide in warm and temperate waters and grows to a very large size -as much as 9 feet across and weighing as much as 2,000 Kilos! It is often seen lying on its side as in the photo. Unusually its tail or caudal fin has been adapted into a 'clavus' or rudder. It has a tiny mouth with a parrot like beak and a small gill opening by the pectoral fin. 

Although the occasional warm water species is seen in Cardigan Bay, by far the majority of such visitors are seen off the coast and on the beaches of Devon and Cornwall where there is a much better developed fishing industry than West Wales and as a result there are far more people reporting unusual sightings. These include Mako sharks, Trigger fish, Portuguese Man of War jellyfish, and Seahorses.


The interest in the Cardigan Bay Dolphins in recent years and the monitoring of Dolphin populations, has meant that unusual marine species are not only more likely to be seen, but also to be identified.


 

 

 

 

 

This photo of a Sunfish was taken by Barry Davies on October 1st, 2011 in Cardigan Bay between Pwllheli and Criccieth to the north of New Quay.