Scotland’s waters are proving a haven for sea creatures.
The annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch event started last Saturday, 28 July, and all around the UK, there have been plenty of whale, dolphin and porpoise (cetacean) sightings submitted.
Every year, scientists at the Sea Watch Foundation lead a campaign to help members of the general public contribute to scientific endeavours to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises, and are calling on thousands of people to get involved with the National Whale and Dolphin Watch which ends on Sunday, 5 August.
Bottlenose dolphins which are presently being sighted daily off Chanonry Point in the Moray Firth as well as regularly in Aberdeen harbour. Harbour porpoises are the commonest and most widespread species in Britain. They can be spotted almost anywhere, and records are coming in from all around the British Isles.
White-beaked dolphins have been sighted along the east coast of Scotland and in the northern Hebrides.
And there is no reason to travel as far as Norway or Iceland to see orcas, minkes or humpback whales as all three have been reported in the last few days – orcas in Shetland; minkes around Scotland, and even the mighty humpback whale in the North Sea off the Aberdeenshire coast.
A rare visitor to British waters, the Sowerby’s beaked whale, was seen off the Fife coast at Dunbar, sadly then live stranding.
Atlantic white-sided dolphins have been seen in Stromness Harbour, Orkney. And several minke whales have been observed this week at a wide range of locations in the Hebrides – Colonsay, Lochaber, Staffin on the Isle of Skye, Peterburn by Gairloch, and off the coast of the Isle of Lewis to name just a few places.
For over 40 years, Sea Watch Foundation scientists as well as volunteer observers all around the coast of the British Isles from Shetland to the Isles of Scilly have been reporting sightings of cetaceans to inform Sea Watch’s huge database of records.
The scheme is one of the oldest and longest running citizen science projects in the world.
Anyone can take part in this flagship event, now in its 17th year.
Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, sightings officer for Sea Watch Foundation, said: ‘No experience is necessary, you just need to download a watch form from our website, record the environmental conditions every 15 minutes and watch for at least an hour.
‘We need as many eyes on the sea as possible. That means we’re looking for people all around the UK coast to join a manned watch or arrange a watch for themselves, and for everybody to report the animals that they see as soon as possible.’
All the verified sightings so far can be viewed on line HERE where they are updated as more reports come in.
Find out more about the event HERE.