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 2010

July has been a busy month with a variety of species reported. The month began with a report of a humpback whale off Tiree. Humpback whale sightings off the west coast of Scotland are rare but not unheard of. This was the first report of 2010. The month ended with a pod of orca off Lewis. Unfortunately we haven't received any photographs of the animals dorsal fins and therefore can't identify the individuals. There are only 9 orca in the west coast community so studying them can be problematic.

Basking sharks have been sighted throughout a widespread area, there does seem to be a shift in reports from Coll and Tiree, with sightings increasing in the waters surrounding the Isles of Mull and Canna in the Inner Hebrides and Lewis in the North. We have received reports of two massive congregations of sharks; the first between Canna and Skye in the middle of the month with 100 animals and the second near Skerryvore lighthouse just ten days later with 60 animals spotted.

Minke whales have been spotted on 9 occasions this month - mainly in the waters surrounding the Small Isles and Lewis. There have been two unusual sightings near the Corryvreckan and off the coast of Dunure, near the Isle of Arran. We do get occasional sightings from these areas but not regularly.

Harbour porpoises have been seen on numerous occasions throughout the area with the majority of sightings around Mull, Canna and Loch Alsh.

Bottlenose dolphins have been reported on only five occasions this month. A few sightings were made between Canna and Mallaig, with group sizes varying between 3 and 20. A solitary bottlenose dolphin was spotted in the Sound of Mull and a group of five at Kyle of Lochalsh.
There have only been three common dolphin sightings reported this month; off South Uist, the South of Harris and Canna.

Risso’s Dolphins have been spotted on two occassions; off Dunnet Head (near the Orkneys) and Loch Roag on the Isle of Lewis. In the Hebrides, these dolphins are usually found in deeper waters as their preferred prey of squid, octopus and cuttlefish can be found there. Although sometimes they are seen in coastal areas too.

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