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Learn more about whales and dolphins in Manx waters 14 June 2006

A day-long course about whales and dolphins will be held in Peel this Sunday, 18th June. It has been organised by the Wildlife and Conservation Division of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The course at the Centenary Centre in Atholl Street, Peel is open to all. There is no charge.

From 10.00am, talks and presentations will be given by Dr Peter Evans of the Sea Watch Foundation and his colleague, Pia Anderwald. They will cover whale, dolphin and porpoise biology and distribution, and a practical introduction on how to study these amazing creatures.

The session at the Centenary Centre will finish at 3.00pm. It will be followed by a practical session on the coast at Dalby.

The course is suitable for everyone – from the complete beginner to the enthusiast who would like to learn more about cetacean (whale and dolphin) research.

Dr Peter Evans is one of the foremost whale and dolphin research experts in the British Isles. He has over 30 years’ experience in marine mammal research and in co-ordinating volunteer research programmes. Dr Evans advises the UK government on cetacean issues. He established Sea Watch in 1991, and is Head of Research. He oversees the UK national cetacean monitoring scheme. Presently on the Council of the European Cetacean Society as Editor, he was previously founding Secretary and Chairman. He is a Director of Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust, a Trustee of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, and advisor to the government and various NGO's on cetacean matters.

Peter's field research concentrates upon ecological, behavioural and conservation biology studies of cetaceans in UK, particularly harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins and minke whales, as well as the effects of human disturbance upon cetaceans. He has also worked extensively on seabirds in Britain, Ireland and the arctic, and was former Secretary of the Seabird Group and editor of its journal Seabird. He has written and edited 12 books and 120 scientific publications, and is also a Research Associate at the University of Oxford.

Pia Anderwald, from Switzerland, is Sea Watch's Database Officer. After a Master's thesis from the University of Zurich on niche differentiation of cetaceans in the North Atlantic using sightings data, she started a PhD at the University of Durham on the foraging ecology and genetics of minke whale in 2003. Pia has extensive field experience of a number of cetacean species including minkes, conducting behavioural studies, line transect surveys and photo-identification. Her role is to review sightings data for the database, oversee validation procedures, and integrating new data sets as well as performing spatial analyses using GIS. She is a co-author of the UK Cetacean Status Review.

There will be the opportunity to buy whale and dolphin identification books and videos to accompany the course. This is a great opportunity to learn about whales and dolphins from international experts and learn practical techniques for marine research.

For more information on the whale and dolphin course, please contact –

Fiona Gell, Marine Conservation Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry: telephone 842335; or emailfiona.gell@gov.im

Further information on cetaceans is available at Sea Watch Foundation

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