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 2014

June has been a very busy month for sightings, probably reflecting the fact that we have had ideal weather conditions conducive to sightings: calm, clear weather and little or no swell. Thanks as ever for reporting your sightings, and please do keep them coming via our website... every single record counts!

During June 2014 there was an incredible 180 sightings of cetaceans and five sightings of basking sharks reported to HWDT. This is up 20% on June 2013. These included 73 sightings of harbour porpoise, 35 sightings of minke whale, 27 of bottlenose dolphin, 26 of common dolphin, five sightings of killer whales and white-beaked dolphins and three sightings of Risso's dolphins. The largest groups of cetaceans reported during the month of June were of common dolphins: up to 200 individuals were spotted on 6 June outside Loch Snizort. Common dolphin records were mostly from Canna to Skye during June.

As expected, harbour porpoise records were observed throughout the region, including the sea lochs and the Clyde. Risso's dolphins were primarily seen around the Ross of Mull in the beginning of June, while white-beaked dolphins were mostly reported in the Minch further offshore. Minke whales were reported breaching on two occasions off Barra and Canna (10 breaches in succession!). The number of basking shark sightings has been in decline during the month of June for a number of years now: 23 in 2012, 16 in 2013 and just 5 in 2014. This is suggestive of a trend which we hope to investigate more thoroughly using effort-related data from our survey vessel Silurian.

An incredible encounter with killer whales was had by several observers at Stoer Point in Sutherland in early June. On a calm evening, four whales were observed tail-slapping and feeding. Much to everyone's delight, they came to within 300 m of the shore where their breathing could be clearly heard. Other killer whale sightings came from the Little Minch in mid-June. Images from some of these sightings confirm that these were members of the Scottish West Coast Community; a small and apparently isolated population that frequents this region. Incredibly, killer whales were also seen at Stoer Point during the same week in June 2013, and almost to the day at Neist Point last year (16 June 2013 and 15 June 2014)... it makes you wonder, do these animals have a regular schedule and do they have a very good sense of time?!

A map of this month's sightings can be viewed here.

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