While many might not realise it, Brighton has a rich cultural heritage with whales and dolphins (‘cetaceans’).
Walking through the city or along the seafront, dolphin imagery can be seen everywhere from fountains to emblems on the railings, as well as on the Brighton coat of arms.
Every year there are multiple sightings of cetaceans off the Brighton coast. August 2017 saw a pod of over 30 bottlenose dolphins off the Palace Pier, while a lone dolphin was seen around the West Pier for several days in 2015. Unfortunately, occasionally we also see deceased cetaceans washed up on the Sussex shoreline, often as a result of fishing ‘bycatch’.
Looking further back, in 1982 huge demonstrations took over Brighton’s streets to bring an end to the hunting of whales around the world through the historic signing of the International Whaling Commission treaty in the Brighton Hilton Hotel, a legacy of anti-whaling which still stands today. Furthermore Brighton Aquarium was involved in the revolutionary ‘Into The Blue’ campaign, which brought an end to over two decades of dolphin captivity in the UK. Brighton also hosted the annual ‘Whale Fest’ event from 2012 to 2015 when 30,000 visitors attended, and two impressive murals showcasing the plight of these animals still grace the streets of Brighton.
However, Brighton’s connection to the marine environment is being lost. Although the economy of the city relies on the sea just off our famous pebble beach, many residents and visitors do not know anything about what is out there.
Hence the Brighton Dolphin Project is a new initiative from the World Cetacean Alliance that aims to educate, inspire and engage the local community with the incredible marine wildlife of The Living Coast. The project aims to do this through educational experience and outreach, including though the new Brighton Dolphin Project Discovery Centre.
This exciting centre is a fun, educational and interactive experience for everyone to enjoy, with educational walks and talks about our local wildlife, holding marine wildlife events, talking about Brighton’s heritage with Dolphins and having captivating treasures including skulls, shells and mermaids’ purses for our visitors to explore.
Get involved and help to create a community of ocean champions who are empowered to take steps to protect our oceans! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all events and activities happening.
UPDATE: Brighton Dolphin Project was renamed Sussex Dolphin Project in March 2021