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.

July 2009

With the warm weather continuing into the first part of July, our online sighting page has been very busy, with daily sightings of a range of species being reported. As the season gets into full swing, hoards of jellyfish drift into the area on the warmer currents originating from the Gulf-stream. Jellyfish such as lion’s mane and moon jellyfish can now be seen in large numbers along the coast bringing with them the odd sunfish, of which there were two sightings this month. Basking shark sightings have risen in number this month also, as the plankton supplies reach their peak.
Interesting sightings included one of two sharks under two metres, almost pup size, and at the other end of the scale, a massive ten metre shark that had been previously tagged here was spotted from the HWDT research vessel, Silurian, still wearing its tag!

Minke sightings were pretty constant during the settled period of weather at the start of the month.  There were even reports of breaching whales and mother/calf pairs circling boats.

The small group of common dolphins continued to be sighted in Oban Bay in July (see June summary for more details).  Elsewhere there were just five sightings of common dolphins were reported and all were in the northern part of the Hebrides (Lewis, Gairloch and the Shiants).  There was also one sightings of a bow-riding solitary common dolphin in Loch Nevis. 

Sightings of the Hebridean bottlenose dolphin group seemed to be mostly of small sub-groups ranging over a large area. Unlike the previous month, there were no sightings reported of the whole group (between 25-40 individuals). In the early part of the month, it appeared that the half of the group was in the Gairloch area whilst the rest was in smaller sub-groups scattered around mid-Argyll (Colonsay and Sound of Mull area). However, there was one probable sighting of a separate, possibly offshore group between Lundale and Callanish, west coast of Lewis. HWDT receive very few sightings of bottlenose dolphins from this area and are keen to validate this sighting with the reporter.

The Hebridean killer whale group was seen twice in July.  A single individual was also sighted at the beginning of the month from the Oban to Barra ferry. 
The highlight of the month was a sighting of our Hebridean orca off the west coast of Ireland.  On the 5th July, at almost exactly the same time, two separate pods were sighted about 100 miles apart.  The first pod, two males and three females, was sighted off County Mayo.  All of the individuals in this group have been matched with members of the Hebridean group (Floppy Fin, Aquarius, Nicola, Lulu and 010).  Four individuals made up the second pod, again each was positively matched with HWDT catologued orca (John Coe, Comet, Puffin and 007).  The number of orca sighted totaled nine, the exact number of individuals in the 'west coast community'.  This is the first confirmed sighting of all the killers spotted outside Hebridean waters.  They obviously don't like being away from home too much though as a group of five was spotted off the Skye coast the following week!  

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