Surprising increase in dolphin sightings off the region's coast

  • Video report by Andy Dickenson

It may only be the first throes of May, and the temperatures outside perhaps not quite as high as we were hoping, but the region has already been witness to a surprisingly high number of dolphin sightings.

Thankfully many have been caught on video though one circulating of a shark off Brighton is - experts say - almost certainly a hoax.

It's early for the dolphin season but we've already had four amazing bottlenose sightings, and a great sighting of a pair of harbour porpoises actually jumping out of the water - which is unusual behaviour for around here. We don't usually see them.

Thea Taylor, Sussex Dolphin Project

Three weeks ago, fishers even caught this rare glimpse of a calf swimming two miles off Littlehampton, but along with the spectacle should we also have some unease?

The most likely explanation for this recent spike in dolphin sightings is climate change - with our waters warming and the dolphin's prey changing course, even during winter.

Bottlenose dolphins cope quite well from the Tropics up to Scotland, so they're quite a broad ranging species anyway, but we don't know what the future brings with our temperatures changing, and what that means for their prey species further down the food web.

Thea Taylor, Sussex Dolphin Project