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.

October 2012

We have had 29 sightings reported to us this month, some with interesting stories to tell! As usual, our most commonly sighted cetacean was the harbour porpoise with 11 sightings; ranging from the Isle of Arran in the south, to Stornoway in the north. Porpoises are widespread throughout coastal regions of the Hebrides and are resident year-round. The density of harbour porpoises in Hebridean waters is amongst the highest in Europe. One person in Lewis reported seeing small fish breaching followed by a porpoise surfacing to catch the fish. Basking sharks still appear to be around, although not in the numbers we see during the summer months.  We had 8 sightings, mostly individuals, but a group of 5 sharks was observed from Carradale off the Mull of Kintyre, unusually close to the shore.

The Common dolphins, another 'summer visitor' are also still sighted, we had 4 sightings during October, one of a large group of approximately 130 in Loch Broom.  As they were unusually far up the loch there was concern they might beach, but it turned out they spent the day chasing fish up and down the loch!  Another group of 20 was seen near the Cairns of Coll, bowriding with a number of mother-calf pairings observed.

4 sightings of Minke whales were reported to HWDT.  One reporter couldn't be sure that they were seeing minke whales as they were seen by the light of the full moon from land at Arrochar in Loch Long!  One of the whales appeared to beach for a short time, it then seemed to thrash around for a short time before getting to deeper water possibly helped by the other one. It then collided with a mooring before heading back out to sea. What an adventure!  Sadly a dead minke whale was spotted from a motor boat near Benbecula.

A group of 2 killer whales were spotted twice in the same area (off Skye) in the same week, once from the ferry and once from land. The sighting from land positively identified the pair as a male and female from images provided.

And finally we have had another sighting of what we suspect is a Bottlenose whale in Loch Long.  It was described as jumping out of the water 5 or 6 times and occasionally tail slapping.  This animal, if it is the same one, has been spotted on a number of occasions and always appears to be active, jumping and tail slapping. It has been 2 months since the first sighting and it is unusual to find this species in a Loch as they prefer more northern offshore deeper waters.  However, recent research published suggest that rather than following an annual north-south migrtaion, northern bottlenose whales in the north east Atlantic may follow an offshore-inshore migration pattern. However, this presence of this individual in the loch for such a prolonged period of time has raised concerns for its welfare.  Please keep your sightings coming in, the winter may be upon us but there is still plenty to be seen!

Top of page ^