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.

September 2012

September has been a stormy month, not great conditions for watching cetaceans! Unlike the rest of the UK, we had a good summer though so can't complain, and we had record numbers of sightings reported to us over the summer season. The stormy weather is reflected in our sightings, only 37 this month. The most common sighting was Harbour porpoise with 12 sightings ranging from Orkney to the Isle of Bute, 2 large pods of 15 and 10 were reported while the others were smaller groups of 2 and 3. They are often described as 'gently surfacing' and are very calming animals to watch.

Our next most common sighting was the mighty Basking shark, with 7 sightings of 6 individuals and one group of 4 near Barra. As the weather starts to turn colder, the Basking sharks begin to disappear from this area, we don't know where they go but a tagging survey started this year may yield some interesting results and on the latest transmission a basking shark tagged near Tiree in July was heading South, miles off the coast of Spain, we will keep you posted! We also had 7 sightings of Minke whales recording 12 animals in Ullapool, Eigg and Loch Long. The Arisaig ferry was a good place to be this month as on the same day there were reports of a Minke whale and a pod of 5 Killer whales. This could be the same pod of Killer whales that was reported to us 4 days earlier heading South from Loch Shell in Lewis.

We had 3 sightings of Common dolphins this month, a pod of 30 between Coll and Mull, a favoured spot for them, and the other 2 of smaller groups in Loch Snizort, Skye and near the Isle of Bute. 2 sightings of Striped dolphins off Rhum were reported as 'probable' by someone. It is worth taking a look at the species index on our website if you are not sure what you have seen. Some species look very similar to others and can be very hard to identify, especially if they are swimming at speed!

4 sightings reported to us were unidentified, 3 of which were in loch Long, with one of those suspecting it was a Northern Bottlenose whale, the other described the animal as 'tail slapping'. This sounds likely that is was the Northern Bottlenose whale seen by a number of people in Loch Long as reported in the News section on our website. We will keep you updated if we have any further news on this. Please keep your sightings coming in, the Autumn is upon us, but many cetaceans stay in these waters for the whole year, so keep looking!

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