Scientists at Sea Watch Foundation are looking for marine mammal enthusiasts around Scotland who want to help to collect records of whales, dolphins and porpoises and become involved in their marine conservation work!
Sea Watch Foundation has monitored whales, dolphins and porpoises in British and Irish waters for over forty years with the help of volunteer citizen scientists who have reported presence, location and numbers of cetaceans from around the country. For the past 16 years this has been spearheaded through an annual national recording event, the National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW). The event this year is taking place from Saturday 28th July until Sunday 5th August 2018 and it marks the long-lasting collaboration between citizen scientists, wildlife enthusiasts, the general public and researchers alike.
Around Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland Isles orcas have been spotted travelling very close to the shore, and lucky ferry passengers were amazed to spot them frolicking in the waters in the River Clyde. White-beaked dolphins have been sighted offshore St Kilda archipelago, and as far north as the isle of Lewis. Humpback whales were sighted surface feeding and breaching from a cliff at Lammerlaws in North East Scotland at the beginning of this year. A unique sighting of a mixed-species association of bottlenose dolphins and Risso’s dolphins was also reported close to the shore of the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides.
Since the event began in 2002, around 5,900 sightings have been made in locations from the Channel Islands and the Scillies to the Shetland Isles, encompassing places as varied as Brighton, Plymouth, Anglesey, Aberdeen, Whitby and Hull.
Sea Watch Regional Coordinator for the Inner and Outer Hebrides is the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust a charity which has got a unique programme of community-based programme where communities are directly involved in collecting biological recordings of local cetacean species.
‘The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Community Sightings Network has allowed people from all walks of life to collect cetacean sightings carrying out broad scale, long-term monitoring of the environment while fostering earth stewardship’, said Pippa Garrard, the Trust’s Community Engagement Officer.
“We hope that National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 is going to draw positive attention and interest like in the past. No experience is necessary, vital data for the protection and conservation of whales and dolphins can be collected sharing this magical event with people from around Scotland and who can have fun all together’, says Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sightings Officer for Sea Watch Foundation.
The NWDW 2017 recorded more than 1,500 hours of watches, 300 hours more than any other similar organized watch in the past, with participants looking out for whales, dolphins and porpoises all around the country from Shetland to the Isles of Scilly, and reporting around 6,600 individual animals of eleven species from land and at sea.
All you need to bring with you is patience, a lot of enthusiasm, binoculars, and sightings forms and a cetacean identification guide (downloadable from the Sea Watch website). We are suggesting for people to conduct their land watches for a minimum of one hour and to work in groups to take turns during data collection. If you are an experienced watcher, you can easily identify species and fill in our website forms. If it is the first time for you, there are manned sites around the country where experienced watchers will be available to assist first timers.
Accredited wildlife tour operators and other recommended dolphin watching companies in Scotland are also taking part in the weekend (details can be found at: http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/scotland-boat-operators/). Please note that spaces on most boat trips need to be reserved first. Prices vary for these trips and you should contact the relevant operator directly. All marine wildlife operators abide by a voluntary code of conduct.
The National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 is just two weeks away and the research charity behind the event are urging people to register now to run watches of their own to contribute valuable data for the protection of these magnificent species!
Please get in touch to find out more and to take part!
Find out more about the event: www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw
Register your own watch: http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw-2018/
To view the 2017 National Whale & Dolphin Watch Report: