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.

April 2012

We have had a fabulous month weather wise and this is reflected in the sightings for April. We had 48 sightings, a big increase on the sightings from last April, and many were from boats as well as land. Some very encouraging sightings of Bottle nose dolphins were reported, they seem to have been frequenting the waters around Mull in particular this month. Indeed, 12 of our Bottle nose sightings were in the waters around Mull, ranging from Langamull in the North of the island, to Loch Buie in the South, in groups of on average around 6 or 7. The Minke whale spotting season has started and we had our first reported sighting on 14th April of a single animal in the sound of Canna, a week earlier than last year. A possible sighting of a Humpback whale was also reported this month at the mouth of Loch Portree, it was described as "blowing vigorously and made several dives around the boat with the distinctive flukes raised out of the water". Humpback whale sightings on the West coast of Scotland are rare, but not unheard of. Humpbacks are widely distributed in all oceans, making extensive migrations and ranging from their tropical wintering grounds to the edges of the polar ice zones. Unmistakable in appearance, the humpback whale’s pectoral (side) fins are long and narrow (Megaptera means “great wing”) and may measure as much as a third of the body length. When fully grown, humpback whales can measure up to 17 metres and weigh 40,000 kg; the female is normally slightly larger than the male. The tail fluke can measure up to five metres across, has a serrated trailing edge, and is black with distinct patterns of white on the underside; this pattern is unique to each animal and is used for identifying individuals. A pod of around 100 common dolphins was reported to us bowriding a yacht in the Sound of Canna. Common dolphins are very social animals and form pods of hundreds, even thousands of individuals. They work together to gather food and use a variety of sounds (clicks, squeaks, and creaks) to communicate. They are fast swimmming and often ride waves, leaping and frequently breaking the surface of the water. Harbour porpoises again have been frequently spotted with quite a few sightings around Tobermory Bay and in the Clyde. Please keep your sightings coming and any photographs you send us can help us to identify animals from our database. This helps us to track the when and wheres of these amazing cetaceans!

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