Sussex Dolphin Project

Mission

Sussex Dolphin Project is committed to protecting local dolphin species through research, awareness and education to deliver ecosystem-level restoration and rejuvenation. 

The project was launched in 2018,  as part of the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), the world’s largest marine conservation partnership, which champions the protection of marine habitats through community engagement.

Even though the WCA was based in Brighton, it had no research operation on the ground to protect cetaceans but this changed with the launch of Sussex Dolphin Project to research into the little known populations of the Eastern English Channel.

Today, we aspire to work collaboratively with organisations and individuals who are regular “users” of the Sussex marine environment to create a sightings network, as well as run activities that will encourage ocean conservationist activities in Sussex.

Our research is evidence-based and captured via the Sussex Dolphin Project Citizen science programme with a view to identifying individual dolphins/pods, and to better understand their behaviour, movement, prey species and breeding sites. This data is then used to better protect our marine environment and ultimately safeguard Sussex marine mammals.

Rebecca Wright Newhaven to West Pier 16072018

Bottlenose Dolphin, Newhaven – Brighton © Rebecca Wright

Sussex History with Dolphins

1968: Two dolphins called ‘Missie’ and ‘Silver’ were introduced into the Brighton Aquarium (now owned by Sea Life). 

1974: Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club briefly changed their logo to match their ‘Dolphins’ nickname.

1982: The 34th meeting of the International Whaling commission was held in Brighton. It was here that the International Whaling Commissions’ first moratorium to ban commercial whaling was signed (a ‘pause’ in commercial whaling on all whale species from the 1985/86 season). This moratorium is still in place today.

1985-1990: activists gathered to protest against the Dolphinarium. A review on UK dolphinariums exposed poor conditions and the cruel capture of wild dolphins.

1991: Missie and Silver were finally released from Brighton aquarium to Caribbean waters, along with another dolphin named Rocky (pictured here) who had been kept at Marineland in Morecambe.

2011: WhaleFest was launched in Brighton. This was the world’s biggest marine festival. 

2015: WhaleFest attracted over 30,000 visitors to Brighton. The event involved guest talks from wildlife celebrities such as Steve Backshall and a 20m sculpture installation on Brighton Beach representing an Orca and calf, made up of 1,500 crosses, each one representing a cetacean that has died in captivity. 

Read the BBC Story.

2018: Brighton Dolphin Project lauched as a project of the World Cetacean Alliance to study local marine mammals. The project changed name to Sussex Dolphin Project in 2021 to better reflect its focus on the entire Sussex coastline.

Image by Robin Howard, Brighton Inshore Fishing, March 2022