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Steve Hartley is the founder of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, New Quay. He now runs Dolphin Survey Boat Trips, however previously fished the waters of Cardigan Bay.

A member of our Living Seas Team sat down with Steve, to discuss his memories of life in the Bay. Here, he discusses a close encounter with a bottlenose dolphin whilst fishing in 1985.

Recollection as follows:

"I remember a couple of instances that stick in my mind, that I’ll never ever forget.

One was I used to fish in the Cobble – it’s out there now, that white one: 'Linda Lloyd'. I used to own that, and I was fishing a few pots...and I was out one morning round by the fish factory, and there were a couple of young animals foraging, where they do, round there by the factory. I was coming along at about 6 or 7 knots to collect my pots by the bird colonies. And a couple of young animals came along to bow ride with me for a while – I didn’t approach them, or change my passage as I was going to get pots – and it was a pleasure to have them join me.

So that was really cool, I thought: 'isn’t it cool to have these animals with me' – it was great going along with them. Then they peeled off and went back to what they were doing, and I carried on…And then just by target rock, I had noticed there was a solitary animal foraging there – I was aware of it, but hadn’t thought about it while I had the young ones chasing around me…Then they left, and I thought 'that was nice'…And the next thing the biggest dolphin you’ve ever seen – I was doing 6 or 7 knots in the Cobble - and it came up absolutely vertically and directly on my bow! It crashed down on the right-hand side - I can see it now! – and I throttled off straight away, and I went to the middle of the boat because I was genuinely frightened.

The animal was huge, the full 14-feet, and I remember thinking the girth of it was the size of a small cow! It was a massive animal! And it proceeded to do this same action: vigorous head slapping in a great semi-circle until it ended up in front of me, and then it dived down and sort of quietened down a bit.

If that wasn’t telling me: 'get out of my breakfast!' was such a communication, and really frightening! You know, I was in a 17’ open boat genuinely felt threatened. I genuinely got the message from that animal, from what it was trying to tell me – it was huge!"

To learn more about Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, please visit:

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