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.

June 2013

Sightings are a little slower this June compared to last year, with a grand total of 149 sightings. This is still very impressive however and we thank all of you for reporting what you have seen.

We had 26 reported sightings of minke whales, 18 sightings of the energetic bottlenose dolphins, 15 of common dolphins and a massive 66 sightings of harbour porpoise! We have also had two reports of the areas less common species, the risso’s dolphin. One pod of 10 risso’s were seen off the North of Skye and a pod of 6 were in Loch Clash, Kinlochbervie. Four of the beautifully patterned white-beaked dolphins, were also seen off of South Uist.

Two very exciting reports of orca (killer whales) were also given to us this month. In the Hebrides there are 9 known orca that have been identified over the years, known as the West Coast Community (WCC). Each orca’s dorsal fin is unique and so by sending us photos of their dorsal fins we can often identify individuals in the same way as we would with a human fingerprint. Other cetacean species and even basking sharks can be identified in the same way and for some species, markings on their flukes (tails) are also used.
On the third of June four orca were seen off of Stoer point lighthouse, Lochinver and on the 16th of June four were also seen from Neist car park on the Isle of Skye. A photo was taken of the orca off Skye and the fin of the large male is so easily recognisable we have been able to confirm that it is the most photographed orca in the British Isles, ‘John Coe.’ John Coe has been seen from as far south as the Pembrokeshire coast and even on the North coast of Ireland.

Sperm whales have also been spotted on two occasions this month, luckily in deeper water where they belong and not in the shallows as was the case for the Sperm whale seen off of Oban in April. 3 sperm whales were seen 81 miles west of Barra on the 26th, but on the 10th one was actually seen from the Gearrannan to Dail Mor coastal path on the Isle of Lewis. What a fantastic creature to have been able to see when out walking!

Finally, our non-cetacean friend the basking shark has been seen around the Hebrides. We have had 16 sightings of these sharks this June compared to 23 last year. It has been a slow start for many species in the area, perhaps owing to cooler water temperatures for the time of year.

Please keep reporting your sightings and sending us your photos. We look forward to updating you on everything that is seen in these magnificent waters!

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