Basking shark
Basking shark

Monthly Sightings Reports

HWDT’s Community Sightings Network encourages residents, local wildlife operators and visitors to the area to report their sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises to HWDT. This information is important because it contributes to our understanding of where and when particular species occur. Report your sighting HERE.

Each month HWDT publishes a summary report of the sightings recorded via our Community Sightings Network. In summer we receive the greatest number of sightings while winter is a quiet time. This is partly due to the number of species present but also reflects the sea state and number of people on the water watching for whales, dolphins and porpoises. In winter, fewer people are watching and the sea state more frequently makes sightings difficult, or even impossible. Also non-resident species have migrated for the winter. At this time of year HWDT receives more strandings reports than at other time as storms can wash animals ashore. These seasonal variations will be reflected in our reports.

Select the monthly report you wish to view from the panel on the left of this page.

November 2016

November has given us a mixed bag of weather but the cetacean sightings have kept coming in. Thanks to all who reported to us! We have had 81 sightings reported to us, totalling 375 individual cetaceans across seven different species-indicating that even in winter there is still plenty to be seen in the Hebrides. They are just usually harder to spot due to lower numbers, shorter days and less than perfect weather!
Like in October, the most commonly sighted cetacean was the harbour porpoise with a total of 55 sightings (232 individuals) accounting for a staggering 67% of the sightings this month! Group sizes have been considerably smaller than last month however. Bottlenose dolphins have been spotted again this month with a total of 59 individuals sighted over seven encounters. Popular spots in November have been the Sound of Islay, as well as the Isle of Mull; where five sightings of a pod of approximately 10 animals were reported over a period of two days.

We have continued to have sightings of our seasonal visitors in the Hebrides, however they are becoming much less frequent. We have had four common dolphin sightings (57 individuals) this last month, with three of those sightings being close to Mull and the other to the south of Harris. We have also received sightings of minke whales (nine individuals) this month, concentrated in areas such as Ullapool, Skye and the Small Isles. Many of these reports indicated that the minke whales were feeding, as they have often been seen surfacing amongst feeding birds. However, the vast majority of these animals appear to have disappeared to their mystery breeding ground during the Hebridean winter.

We received two sightings of Risso’s dolphins this month, including one pod of eight, which approached the ferry, swimming past closely to clearly reveal their characteristic scars. There was also one sighting of a lone male killer whale, travelling across the Little Minch towards Skye.

The map for November clearly indicates that ferry routes have provided a fantastic platform for spotting cetaceans this month, so many thanks to those who keep their eye peeled on their various journeys. Please do continue to report your sightings over the winter months, as any sightings will help us gain more knowledge into the cetaceans that continue to use our waters throughout the winter period.

To see a map of the sightings from 1 to 30 November 2016, click here


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