The People’s porpoise Project is phase 2 of the porpoise photo ID project and is funded by the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund.
The project will run alongside the porpoise photo ID project and has three elements; a photo ID project; a sightings database focusing on the harbour porpoise population around the Pembrokeshire coast; and a community project to recruit and train volunteers and spread awareness of our important natural heritage.
The aim of this project is to continue our long-term monitoring of the species and its habitat through photo ID surveys and sightings records. This project has allowed us to expand on phase 1 by doubling up on volunteers and survey sites which means we can collect double the amount of data. By surveying multiple sites around the Pembrokeshire coastal path we will be able to gather a lot more information regarding porpoise movement, both individual and group and population dynamics. The data collected as part of this project will contribute towards answering questions regarding harbour porpoise site usage, behaviours, provide additional information of the range of the local population as well as the potential effects of human activities on their behaviour. The information we collect can aid in the protection of the species which will have a positive knock on effect to its associating ecosystem and the natural heritage of the area. The data we can collect here in Pembrokeshire will add to the current knowledge of porpoises and therefore has the potential to be pivotal in porpoise research. The picture below shows just some of the information we can find out through long-term monitoring.
As a result of phase 1 (Porpoise photo ID project) we have fully prepared ourselves for phase 2. Throughout the phase 1, we performed extensive literature searches, trialled many survey methods and tested different types of equipment. Phase 1 has also allowed Sea Trust to collaborate with a number of other organisations who have helped enhance the project. Phase 2 builds on methods developed and data collected in phase 1.
By getting the community involved and training volunteers as citizen scientists, we will also educate them about the precious marine life they have on their doorstep and encourage them to be proud of their natural heritage and in turn protect it by changing their attitudes and behaviors. Long-term monitoring surveys will help ensure that the porpoises and other marine life are protected and will remain abundant around the Pembrokeshire coast for future generations to enjoy. This project will make a lasting difference to natural heritage by establishing baseline porpoise data including porpoise movements, behavior and population status. Data collected will assist in our overall goal of protecting Strumble Head as a Marine Conservation Zone. It will also make a lasting difference to the community by raising awareness and getting them directly involved in collecting data. This will give them a sense of community responsibility improving individual health and well-being.