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.

May 2008

The 1st May was marked by a sighting of four harbour porpoises spotted from the Kilchoan ferry. Harbour porpoise sightings continued throughout the month and as the Education Team left the Gulf of Corryvreckan during their first trip of the season onboard Siluran, so many porpoise were around that almost every time they lifted their binoculars they made another sighting. Several other species have been spotted in May showing that the season is gathering pace. Minke whales have been sighted off Skye, Staffa and Mull with one local boat operator reporting an impressive sighting of six minke whales feeding together off Ardnamurchan point.

Common dolphins and basking sharks have also been reported around the Treshnish Isles, as well as numerous bottlenose sightings around Mull. During one such bottlenose encounter at the end of May, local boat operator Sea Life Surveys managed to take some great photographs. This has allowed the HWDT team to identify several individuals including old favourite Sedna, with a distinctive nick on her dorsal fin, which is the first confirmed sighting of her this year.

During May there have also been four separate killer whale sightings, the first of which was at Dunvegan Head on Skye, the second off the north west of Mull, the third east of the Treshnish Isles and the fourth off the Cairns of Coll. During the sighting east of the Treshnish Isles the killer whales were very active, tail slapping and breaching before disappearing from sight. Of the four individuals sighted during this encounter, local boat operator Turus Mara staff instantly recognised one of the adult males as the well-known Floppy Fin with his characteristic flopped over dorsal fin. A week later, Sea Life Surveys also encountered Floppy Fin at the Cairns of Coll, along with another well known male named Kinky and two females. On this occasion the animals were travelling in a more leisurely manner and they stayed with the boat for over an hour. HWDT are currently awaiting photographs in order to identify the other killer whales encountered in May.

Another exciting sighting reported to us this month is that of a suspected beluga sighting off the coast of Benbecula. A couple visiting the island happened to spot the animal 50ft offshore as it headed south along Baleshare beach describing it as 10-15ft long, solid white, with no noticeable dorsal fin, rounded head and fluked tail. While sightings of belugas so far from the Arctic are uncommon, they do occasionally occur, and the description the couple gave certainly sounds like it could have been their lucky day…

Top of page ^