Our National Whale and Dolphin Watch event celebrated its 21st anniversary in 2021. Threats to whales and dolphins have never been so great, and yet for several species we lack anything but a rudimentary knowledge of their status and distribution. The more coastal species like harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin are specially exposed to the detrimental effects of human activities, and both have undergone significant declines in the past decades. Read more about the threats facing cetaceans here.
Research has shown that there is little awareness in the UK of the tremendous diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises found around our shores. The use of non-scientific members of the general public and non-specialist volunteers to collect data on cetaceans to investigate their status, distribution, abundance and well-being has been pioneered in the UK by the Director of Sea Watch Foundation. In the 1970s, this nationwide citizen science project was established by creating a network of voluntary observers who report sightings across the UK and whose help is vital to improve our knowledge of the health of the marine environment and its inhabitants. Sea Watch Foundation encourages observations and recording throughout the year, but it is during the NWDW event that everyone is given a unique opportunity to collect a large amount of scientifically valuable data over a concentrated time period, and to learn from each other at publicised sites.