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.

Winter 2009/10

The winter has, as usual, been quiet for cetacean sightings with fewer animals in the area and even fewer people around to watch them. The two species that are present all year round are bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises and in the three months leading up to Christmas there were just seven sightings reported, the majority being of bottlenose dolphins. Two of these reports were of harbour porpoises, one being of a larger group of around 20 animals in Loch Carron.

The prolonged spell of settled weather after Christmas meant flat calm seas throughout January and February and this produced a good number of bottlenose dolphin sightings throughout both months across the area. There was also a second sighting of a large group of harbour porpoises, this time of 18 animals reported in the Clyde. Large groups of this species are more commonly associated with the summer months but the exceptional spotting weather for this time of year revealed that this is not always the case!

Finally, a local farmer witnessed four ‘very large’ whales surfacing near the shore off the Ross of Mull towards the end of January. He recounted seeing large blows from the animals which surfaced several times in Ardalanish Bay. He described ‘the rolling of their large backs taking forever to surface before the small, sickle-shaped fin appeared way down the length of the back before the animal dived again’. He later watched them as they heading off towards the Isle of Colonsay, and could still see them from a huge distance away.

This is a very unusual and spectacular sighting for this time of year, and for such large whales seen in excellent conditions, it is perhaps surprising that we didn’t receive any further reports of them. However, after all, this is the winter - a time of year we know even less about the movements of these animals.

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