Hello and welcome to Day 1 of The National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2020 Diaries! I am so excited to have you here as we find out what’s been happening during each day of the watch, all with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of whale and dolphin species so that we may offer them greater protection.
Let’s take a look at today’s highlights…
Today I headed out to Sharrow Beach, Cornwall for my first watch. I arrived at 8:45am and set up ready to begin my watch at 9am. The weather was very windy, with a 10 minute rain shower to start off! But this didn’t dampen my spirits, and I continued eagerly looking out to sea. The visibility was about 1-5km today. Towards the end of my 1 hour watch the weather settled down and the sun started to shine through.
I didn’t see any marine mammals today, but this is still very important data and I shall be submitting my recording forms nonetheless! It’s important that we understand where we’re not seeing whales and dolphins, as well as where they are most abundant. Every recording form that is sent in will help direct conservation efforts to where they are needed most. This ensures vulnerable areas are being protected against things like overfishing, pollution or disturbance as well as identifying hotspots of marine megafauna activity!
My watch was still full of life, though! I had the pleasure of watching four northern gannets showing off their diving skills! I saw 3 adults, and one juvenile. Northern gannets are an Amber listed species of concern and our largest sea bird in the UK. We have 220,000 pairs nesting around our coasts – that’s 60-70% of the world’s gannet population!
There were 63 watches today; 20 in Scotland, 11 in Wales, 31 England, and 1 in the Channel Islands. We’ve had a great start to the watch with 32 sightings reported! We’ve had reports of five Risso’s dolphins in Thurso Bay from Karen Munro and two reports of minke whales; one spotted off Scarba, Argyllshire by Roy from Seafari and the other spotted by Alan Airey off Burghead, Moray. See the map below to see all of the sightings from today. The weather has been wet and windy for most of us today, and unfortunately some watches have had to cancel or reschedule, including a boat trip in Dorset. Heavy rains and thunderstorms are forecast for this evening in parts of the UK, but hopefully we have some brighter and breezier days ahead!
You can keep up to date with the sightings throughout the National Whale and Dolphin Watch by clicking here.
Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills from the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust had a great day conducting a land watch in Ardmore point on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.
“We were lucky to spot a small group of porpoise including the tiniest baby I’ve ever seen! It was wonderful!” – Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, HWDT
Please remember to keep submitting your sightings online via our sightings page before you submit your recording forms to email@example.com. Remember that records of species absence are just as important! So please send in your recording forms even if you don’t see any cetaceans.
You have until midnight on the 15th of August to return your recording forms for a chance to win prizes from Ripcurl, Made of Sundays and Dani Williams Art! Go to our competition page to find our more.
I would love to hear from you about how you’re getting on with the National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2020. If you’d like to be featured in one of my diary entries, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me all about it! Please write “NWDW 2020 Diaries” in your email subject line.
See you tomorrow for Day 2!
Sea Watch Intern
NWDW Feature Blogger