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.

November 2011

As winter sets in, fewer boats are out on the water and sightings become significantly fewer. Unsuprisingly, all 6 of our sightings for this month have been from the land or the ferry and 4 of the 6 sightings have been bottlenose dolphins, in all a total of 17 dolphins were spotted.  7 dolphins were spotted from Machir Bay on Islay, they were very energetically splashing and breaching (leaping out of the water).  Another lone individual was spotted feeding from Ardencaple Bay, near Kilninver South of Oban.  A group of 8 were spotted playing together in the Sound of Mull from the ferry at Craignure.
We are amazingly lucky in this area to have 2 distinct pods of resident dolphins.  One pod sticks to one area; in and around the Sound of Barra and numbers around 15 individuals.  The other pod numbers around 35 individuals and ranges from the Isle of Skye to the Mull of Kintyre.  HWDT alongside other organisations are conducting valuable long term studies to find out more about these bottlenose dolphins by indentifying animals using their individually marked fins. By 'knowing' our bottlenose dolphins we can study their preferred habitats, their behaviour and monitor population growth.  Their relatively small numbers mean that the west coast populations are vulnerable and highlights the need for continued research to better understand and effectively protect these beautiful animals!

The population of Bottlenose dophins over on the Moray Firth are very well known and indeed, one of the sightings reported this month was of an individual over at Findhorn - this information will be passed onto the relevent researchers in the Moray Firth.

We had 2 sightings of Harbour porpoise, 2 in Bloody Bay north of Tobermory and 3 in the Sound of Mull, just outside Tobermory harbour.  Harbour porpoise are Scotland's most commonly spotted cetacean and are resident year round. They are smaller, darker and more sedate than dolphins preferring to arc gracefully through the water and are not prone to the great splashing displays shown by the dolphins! 

 We are really keen to learn more about the cetacean activity in the Clyde area so appreciate that more people are reporting their sightings from there - particularly Phil Cheek, who has supported HWDT in many ways over the years, thank you Phil! 

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