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.

June 2010

This month has been particularly good for basking shark sightings with more reports of sharks received than any other species and four times as many as this time last year. Sightings were received from a wide area around the west coast but areas with the highest numbers of sightings appeared to be around the Coll and Tiree coastline. There were also a good number of reports in the latter half of the month further north, around Lewis and Harris. The two most impressive sightings were reported around Coll and Tiree with approximately 40 sharks seen in the Gunna Sound between Coll and Tiree, and 29 sharks seen at Toraston Bay, Coll.

Sightings of minke whales continued to rise this month. Reports were received for a wide area around the west coast with the Small Isles and Skye being particularly good spots to see minke whales at the beginning of the month. There were a few sightings in slightly more unusual locations; two whales were seen from Port Appin travelling past Lismore (Loch Linnhe), a whale was seen in the Firth of Clyde and there was a third possible sighting of a whale at Strontian, quite near the the head of Loch Sunart. Minke whales are occasionally seen travelling up sea lochs as they follow their prey but we have never received a whale sighting this far up Loch Sunart and we are currently trying to validate this most interesting sighting report.

Sightings of common dolphins are now featuring quite highly on the sightings list; several areas off the Isle of Skye played host to huge groups of common dolphins at the beginning of the month with group sizes varying between 250 and 500 animals.

Bottlenose dolphins were seen on six occasions in June; three of which were around the Isle of Bute early on in the month with group sizes between five and 12. The fourth sighting was of four individuals off the north coast of Mull.  Followed by another sightings off Mull a few weeks later, this time off the south coast at Uisken.  Finally a pod of dolphins have been spotted in Loch Snizort, Isle of Skye, this morning (Monday 28th June).   

Harbour porpoise sightings were reported throughout June. There were a few sightings from more unusual locations such as Inverary, Loch Long and off Gourock in the Clyde. We know relatively little about cetacean presence in these areas, so we are really pleased to receive these sightings.

There were a few possible sightings of a lone killer whale around the Isle of Coll. Unfortunately we haven’t yet received any photographs from these sightings which would be really useful in confirming these reports. Photographs may also enable us to identify the individual from the west coast community, which consists of just nine animals.

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