South West Wales

Clet the lone dolphin spotted with company off Pembrokeshire

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Media captionClet was filmed off Ramsey Island

A dolphin who is usually seen travelling alone has been spotted off the Welsh coast - and this time he has company.

"Clet" the bottlenose dolphin - recognisable by his damaged fin - was last sighted along the Cornwall and Devon coastline in 2015.

Known for his "unusual" solitary lifestyle, Clet has previously been spotted in the Scottish Highlands.

Now Clet has been seen with 40 other dolphins in Pembrokeshire's waters.

He treated boat trippers and staff at Falcon Boats to a close up encounter last Thursday as he swam along the bow near Whitesands Bay and Ramsay Island.

"As we headed slowly west, a few came over and swam alongside the boat and started bow riding and one that was bow riding was particularly noticeable due to a damaged dorsal fin," said Ffion Rees, director of the boat company.

"They stayed with us for about 15 minutes before heading off together with purpose in a westerly direction."

Image copyright Claire Hoddinott/Friends of Fowley Estuary
Image caption Clet is recognisable by his damaged fin

Clet was first sighted in the Cornish waters in 2011, travelling around the country from as far south as Portland in Dorset, up to the Scottish Highlands.

In 2014 he was sighted off Ireland on 20 different occasions.

Image copyright Nic Davies
Image caption Clet was spotted in the sea off Mull, Scotland, in 2014

Katrin Lohrengel of the Sea Watch Foundation, said that even by bottlenose dolphin standards, Clet is an unusual case, not least because he travels alone.

"Dolphins are usually social animals but so-called 'solitary social dolphins' like Clet are a well-known phenomenon around the world and several have been reported in the UK and Ireland in previous years," she said.

"It is great to see that Clet has resurfaced."

Image copyright Nic Davies
Image caption Clet has distinctive scarring

Ms Lohrengel added that solitary dolphins could be living alone for several reasons including environmental pressures such as food availability, habitat destruction, predators, reproductive strategy or human interference.

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