As a member of the Essex Wildlife Trust I was really pleased to see that my spring edition of their magazine had arrived yesterday for me to read.
One article really caught my eye, but for quite sad reasons: Apparently, last November the Blackwater Estuary made global news because a pod of Pilot Whales suddenly appeared there. The Essex Wildlife Trust was very much involved in trying to encourage these beautiful creatures back to the safety of the North Sea where they must have strayed from. The Long-finned Pilot Whale are members of the oceanic dolphin family. They measure up to 7.6 metres, weigh up to three tons and are found in the temperate and sub-polar zones of our oceans.
The whales’ behaviour was very worrying. They were showing signs of stress which can lead to stranding happening very quickly. Why were they in the River Blackwater? Well, Pilot Whales are very sociable creatures and will often follow sick or injured whales onto shore which can obviously lead to a mass stranding. As it was, just one whale died with the rest of the pod making it back to the North Sea by the next day so it was a reasonable ending to something that could have been so much worse. In February this year, 140 Pilot Whales died in a mass stranding at Farewell Pit, New Zealand so the whales that came to the River Blackwater were, in the main, lucky.
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It takes me back to a wonderful trip to Tenerife I made with my wife two years ago now where a real highlight was a boat expedition to see the Dolphins and Pilot Whales that live down in the warm, blue waters off these lovely islands. The boat trip was extremely well organised with utmost respect being shown to the wildlife (for instance, when the boat came close to whales or dolphins the engine was turned off and we just drifted next to these wonderful creatures observing them close-up but in no way distressing them). It really was a wonderful afternoon and I will never forget it.
As long as we have people like the Essex Wildlife Trust looking out for creatures like these Pilots Whales, I am proud to belong to the organisation!