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.

September 2009

Bottlenose dolphins were seen on eight occasions in September. The dolphins were seen at the start of the month in Loch Craignish, Kintryre, then later in the month further north around the Corryvreckan Gulf and then finally up around Mull towards the end of the month where they stayed for several days. All sightings except one were of bigger groups of between 10 and 20 individuals. The presence of newborn calves was also confirmed for the first time this year. Pictures from one encounter were sent in to us from a dive boat and it looks like one of the new mothers is the well-marked individual #5043. Click here to view the bottlenose dolphin catalogue.

Some very large groups of harbour porpoises were reported in September. Groups of up to a hundred-strong were spotted feeding in the tide off Grasspoint, Mull and also in the Sound of Raasay. Harbour porpoises are known to form large foraging groups at this time of year. It is also the time of year that they are calving and this may be another reason why they aggregate in big numbers.

Minke whale sightings are dwindling in number now as their feeding season draws to a close. There were just five sightings of single minke whales, three of which were recorded on the same day from a keen-eyed reporter on the ferry passage between Canna and Skye. Similarly, there were just two basking shark reports and no common dolphins seen in September indicating that the seasonally abundant food supplies are drying up.

There was, however a group of about 20 Risso’s dolphins spotted off the Treshnish Isles in the middle of the month. This is one of very few sightings of this species this year.

Finally, there was a possible report of a northern bottlenose whale in Loch Linnhe this month. This follows several other reports of this species elsewhere in the UK, including a young bottlenose whale in the River Clyde. This is the time of year when this, normally offshore species, makes a southwards migration, and so are sometimes seen off our coasts as they are following prey inshore. However, they seem to run the risk of becoming disorientated if they travel too far inshore, for example as happened to the ‘Thames whale’. HWDT will be standing by for further reports and hope that the whale will find its way back out to sea.

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