Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Whale watching.

Scientists are using evidence of whale sightings off the North-East coast to help in their conservation.

The National Whale and Dolphin Watch took place around Britain from July 27 to August 4.

Of the more than 400 sightings, the North-East coast was the only place to record a Humpback whale, while the Yorkshire coast was the only site to spot a sei whale.

A minke whale and a Humpback were recorded off Whitburn Coastal Park, near Sunderland, while other Minkes were seen feeding for three consecutive days off Scarborough, including among them a group of three. A Minke was also spotted off the coast at Saltburn.

The Sei whale was seen near Whitby, along with white beaked dolphins and a harbour porpoise.

Harbour porpoises and Minke whales were also seen off Seahouses in Northumberland.

The results of the count, which is organised by the national marine research and conservation charity, the Sea Watch Foundation, will be analysed by the North-East Environmental Records Information Centre and the charity, Orca, and will be made public by the end of the month. It is expected that the number of sightings will rise considerably.

Sea Watch sightings officer, Danielle Gibas, said: "The event really captured the hearts and minds of members of the public. The good weather throughout much of the watch helped to engage people and we will be able to create a very clear picture of what species were around the coast."

A cetacean map will be drawn up plotting the sightings to give a picture of the distribution and numbers of the ten different species recorded across the UK.

While there was plenty of good news, there was also a potentially worrying development - a lack of reports of pilot and fin whales.

"We have had some very interesting sightings which we will now be analysing," said Ms Gibas. "The watch has confirmed, for instance, common dolphins now range to the north of Scotland and beyond - and the use of the North-East coast by significant numbers of minke whales."

"We know that pilot and fin whales are also regular visitors to our coastal waters. They have already been seen this year and we would expect them to be seen again during the summer."

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Food Festival in Full Swing

Michelin-starred chef and TV’s Great British Menu winner Kenny Atkinson was one of the star attractions at the first ever Saltburn Food Festival.

Mr Atkinson, who recently left the five-star Rockliffe Hall, near Darlington, took a break from his latest venture to entertain the crowds at the Milton Street event today.

The chef, who is due to open his own restaurant on Newcastle’s Quayside later this year, is also the patron of Saltburn Farmer’s Market.

Mr Atkinson gave cooking demonstrations at 11.30am and 1.30pm to the crowds who packed out the street festival.

For food lovers, North-East producers were selling cheese, wine, meat, baked goods and sweet treats at the event.

Other attractions included Saltburn’s own Greedy Bassets Kitchen and Nobia African cuisine, run by Ghana born Nobia Deprez, who lives in Middlesbrough.

There were also picnic tables and live music so that visitors could relax throughout the day at the street-party style event.

Trapped couple refuse rescue at cliffs

Reported by Dave Cocks
Deputy Launching Authority & Lifeboat Press Officer at Redcar.

A couple trapped by the rising tide at the base of cliffs at Saltburn declined to be rescued by RNLI lifeboats on Saturday 3 August 2013.

The man and woman were seen to be stranded at Penny Hole, a notorious cut-off point at the bottom of Huntcliff, by RNLI lifeguards based at Saltburn.

Both RNLI lifeboats from Redcar launched at 2pm, approximately half an hour before high tide, and quickly located the middle-age couple.

The smaller inshore lifeboat was taken into the cliff base near to the couple’s location in preparation for the rescue. However when a crew member went ashore, the man and woman declined to be rescued into the lifeboat.

It is believed that the couple were walking along the base of the cliffs and had misjudged the time needed to get clear of the incoming tide.

Dave Cocks from Redcar RNLI said: ‘Our crew were a little taken aback when the stranded pair declined our offer of rescue. The gentleman was confident of his own knowledge of tides and was quite happy to sit it out until the tide fell back again.

‘We gave the couple advice about the risks from falling rocks and, after consulting with the coastguards coordinating the rescue, the lifeboats were stood down.

‘They had a picnic with them, which was probably just as well bearing in mind it was going to be at least two hours before there was any chance of them getting to a place of safety.’

Dave Cocks added: ‘There are always two risks to consider when walking close to the bottom of any cliffs. The first is being cut off by the tide and the second is being injured by falling rocks. There have been incidents elsewhere in the country where a section of cliff has collapsed with fatal consequences.’

The lifeboats returned to Redcar while lifeguards continued to monitor the couple's safety.

image of the Redcar RNLI inshore lifeboat at Huntcliff. Credit: Dave Cocks

Redcar lifeboat station has been operating since 1802
Redcar currently operates a B-class lifeboat named Leicester Challenge III, paid for by the people of Leicester, and an IB1-class lifeboat named Jacky Hunsley, paid from the legacy of the late Jacqueline Hunsley of Leeds.
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For more information please telephone Dave Cocks, RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer on 07894 558 483, or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789;