For our little Morgan, as a soft toy her interaction with the marine environment is mainly like ours, from the surface. Observing marine life as it breaks that barrier, for whales and dolphins this is essential. As mammals they breathe air like humans which means that they must surface in order to breathe. The time they can hold their breath, while much longer than humans, varies from 10 minutes or so for many dolphins to over an hour for the mighty sperm whale. But ultimately they all must come to the surface and breathe. This is where most of our interaction with whales and dolphins occurs. Some are lucky to swim with them in the wild, experiencing the wonder of interacting with them under the waves. Most encounters however occur at the surface, and this is where Morgan has been experiencing fantastic encounters with her kin.
In September last year however, Andre Cid from AIMM took Morgan under the water for the very first time. In the warm, blue waters off Arrabida Portugal, Morgan went diving with Andre Cid as he undertook a survey of the seabed habitat. They were joined by renowned underwater photographer Athilla Bertoncini. He took some truly magical pictures of Morgan under the water.
|Morgan diving with the scientific divers|
The survey was part of a wider project to determine the biodiversity that exists around Portugal. Andre and Morgan surveyed a 50 m line counting all the fish they saw, then they visually determined the vegetation cover. Each line was also videoed and any unusual species of marine creature they saw they took pictures for future identification. Other divers recorded sponges, corals, micro algae, plankton. Over the course of the recent surveys the team has recorded 40 species that had previously not been described in this area of Portugal!
|Surveying the marine life|
The whole marine ecosystem is interconnected. To protect whales and dolphins, we need to protect their habitats. Before we can protect marine creatures and their habitats we need to know what is there. What a thrill for Morgan to be at the very forefront of marine discovery!
|Simply enjoying the magic of being under water|