WHILE this summer may have been one to forget for many people, marine wildlife provided some sights to remember for Sussex seafarers, writes Harry Bullmore.

Dolphins, seals, a seahorse and even a whale were seen off the county’s coast during lockdown.

The incredible animals had spotters scrambling for their phones and cameras to capture the moment, with many submitting their footage to the Brighton Dolphin Project - an organisation which aims to “inspire and engage the local community to learn about the incredible marine wildlife off the Sussex coast”.

The Argus:

And, perhaps surprisingly, the amount of videos and images received during lockdown allowed the group to record a sharp increase in Bottlenose dolphin sightings.

Thea Taylor, co-lead of the Brighton Dolphin Project, said: “We’ve witnessed a record year for Bottlenose dolphin sightings.

“In fact, we’ve received nearly twice as many sightings between April and August 2020 as we did in the whole of 2019.”

The Argus:

She said this could be down to several reasons, with the first and foremost being an increase in the number of dolphins off the Sussex coast.

Thea said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted our relationship with the sea and fewer large vessels on the water will have reduced the level of underwater noise pollution, which is a significant factor for the dolphins and their chosen habitats.”

She also suggested that the dolphins could have always been there, but people had more time to take to the water during lockdown - when restrictions were eased.

The Argus:

Thea said: “The variety of wildlife off the coast of Sussex has always been amazing, I think that people have just had the time to slow down and appreciate it this year.

“From Cuckoo Wrasse and Red Gurnards, to Snakelocks anemones, we have animals off our coast that many people would think fit better in a brightly coloured coral reef. Our marine protected areas act as refuges for soft corals, seagrass beds and a multitude of other important species, including two species of seahorse.”

Thea also stressed that, in order to “increase the abundance and biodiversity off our coast”, people must “appreciate the need to protect the animals they have right outside their door.”

The Argus:

Alongside the Bottlenose dolphins, several other species were also spotted off the Sussex coast.

Robin Howard snapped an image of a Sunfish, pictured right, off Brighton.

The fish are normally found basking at the surface of temperate and tropical oceans, and usually grow to be about one metre long.

The Argus:

The seahorse, pictured top right, was caught on camera in Chichester Harbour.

Meanwhile, just off Ovingdean, Philip and Sophia Beicken caught a glimpse of a dolphin-like creature which has since been identified by the Brighton Dolphin Project as a Sowerby’s Beaked Whale. This is a species of toothed whale which can grow to about five metres in length.

The grey seal, pictured far right, was spotted on Rottingdean beach