This year Sea Watch Foundation are celebrating the 16th annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch, taking place from Saturday 29th July until Sunday 6th August 2017. Created to increase awareness of the diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises found in UK waters, this annual event draws attention to the need for conservation and continued research into the abundance and diversity of cetaceans around the UK. From bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay to orcas around the Hebrides, British and Irish waters are home to a staggering 29 species of whale and dolphin, over a quarter of the entire British mammal fauna! Whilst the number of sightings varies from year to year last year 7622 individual animals were spotted from all around the country during National Whale and Dolphin Watch including humpback whales, sperm whales, Risso’s dolphins and a group of 500 common dolphins!
National Whale and Dolphin Watch hopes to encourage members of the public to become more involved in marine mammal conservation, while providing a snapshot of cetacean populations around the UK. Anyone can take part even without prior experience, as long as you are by the coast. During the week there will be a number of manned sites around the country where experienced watchers will be available to assist first timers. All you need to take part are some sightings forms, a pair of binoculars and our downloadable cetacean identification guides.
If you are confident about recording your sightings we encourage you to set up your own dedicated watch and download some of our effort forms; in addition to recording your sightings these require a record of information on the environment at the time of your sighting such as sea state, wind direction and visibility. Conducting your own cetacean watch is easy. We suggest that your watch is scheduled for a minimum of one hour and you conduct your work with a group of volunteers, this makes it easier when you have a lot of information to fill in or more than one group of dolphins to keep an eye on. Working as a group also means that you can take it in turns to keep watch so someone always has their eyes on the water.
2016 was our most successful year yet, can you help make this year better?
For more information, updates and details of events, please consult the Sea Watch Foundation website.
If you want to organise a watch or require additional information please contact our National Whale and Dolphin Watch assistant Lauren on email@example.com.
By Amanda Sleath, Education and Outreach Assistant, 2017