A report will be launched on the 10th of May detailing the amazing marine life that can be seen in the East Grampian Waters. This includes over 300 records of ten species of whales, dolphins and porpoises ranging from bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises along the Aberdeenshire coast to more exotic visitors such as humpback whales and orca or killer whales.
These sightings have all been made by volunteers taking part in NORCET surveys from Aberdeen to the Northern Isles in the last five years. NORCET is a joint venture between the University of Aberdeen, the Seawatch Foundation, and the East Grampian Coastal partnership with support from Northlink Ferries.
The surveys take place from May until September with volunteers making observations from the bridge of the MV Hascosay. Ian Hay, Project Officer with the East Grampian Coastal Partnership commented, ‘this is a great opportunity for anyone with an interest in our Marine Wildlife to help improve our knowledge.’
Colin MacLeod from the University of Aberdeen added ‘The use of these surveys can be demonstrated by the seemingly new arrival to our local waters of Risso’s Dolphin’. Until 2 years ago Rissos’s dolphin were almost unknown in the waters around Aberdeen, however now they are becoming an almost regular visitor.
As well as documenting previously unrecorded species, the NORCET surveys also provide important information for monitoring the well-being of whale and dolphin populations in the northern North Sea. Species such as the white-beaked dolphin are declining in other parts of Scotland, and the NORCET surveys help check whether similar changes are occurring here.
The records from the NORCET surveys also highlight the opportunities for passengers on Northlink ferries to see amazing wildlife before they have even arrived on the Northern Isles.
Fiona Anderson of Northlink Ferries added, ‘Even if you are not lucky enough to sea a whale, the seas between Aberdeen and the northern isles are always alive with birds and sometimes it feels as if they are as interested in you as you are of them’.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer of the NORCET survey please contact Ian Hay at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you are not experienced enough to help at sea, the Seawatch Foundation runs land based watches on the last Sunday of each month with short 2 and 4 hour boat based surveys leaving Stonehaven each week during the summer.
We would like to thank BP for a donation of £300 to the Grampian Seawatch Foundation through BP’s Global Social Investment Programme to contribute towards the ongoing programme of vessel based surveys from Stonehaven.