The bottlenose dolphins are one of the most threatened marine mammals in U.K. waters, and sightings of such large groups are few and far between. Clive Martin, director for the wildlife charity Marinelife, said the creatures were seen four miles off St. Catherine’s Point on the Isle of Wight.
“In over 10 years of research in the English Channel, Marinelife have never before recorded bottlenose dolphins in this location or in such large numbers in the central part of the Channel,” Martin said. “It may indicate that the central part of the Channel is again becoming part of the territory for a range of dolphins.”
Scientists know a small population of the rare dolphins live near the western edge of the Channel.
But the central and eastern parts of the English Channel aren’t thought of as dolphin-sighting hotspots—they’re busy shipping and pleasure cruise areas.
Authorities think the gutsy travelers are mostly adolescent males, which are known to roam near bustling coasts and harbors.
Bottlenoses are the most common dolphins worldwide and are not endangered, but some populations are threatened due to environmental changes. Hunting and harassing of marine mammals is forbidden in nearly all circumstances in U.S. waters.
- Top 10 Animal Senses
- Top 10 Amazing Animals
- Gallery: The World's Biggest Beasts