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 2015

Like seeing the first swallow, it feels like summer is around the corner when the first basking sharks are sighted. Having travelled northwards up the coast of Britain they have put in appearances this month at some of their usual favoured areas around Coll and Tiree, and a less frequently observed area, Loch Sunart. This enormous fish, the second largest in the world, can live to be over fifty. It is extraordinary to think that many of these placid creatures that we see may be the survivors of the hunting of them that continued in Scotland until only 20 years ago.

Slightly smaller but perhaps less placid, killer whales were reported on two occasions off the Isle of Lewis, five being seen together off Sheshader point.

All three of our most frequently seen dolphins put in appearances. The least reported of these because they are usually in deeper waters, Risso’s dolphins, were spotted at Swordale, Isle of Lewis and Cluer Point off the Isle of Harris. Further north they were seen at Faraid Head in Sutherland. There were two sightings of common dolphins at Geary, Skye and from the Gourock to Hunters Quay Ferry. Like the basking shark they appear in Hebridean waters in the summer and April is early for them to be recorded. By way of contrast, bottlenose dolphins are with us all the year round and this month were seen in small groups over quite a large area, the largest group of fifteen being at Staffin, Isle of Skye.

Finally there were an amazing fifty nine sightings of porpoises, an usually large group of thirty being seen round Calve Island near Tobermory, Mull. Many of these sightings were the product of intensive watches in a few locations by regular spotters. The lesson from this is surely that if an area is studied closely over time it will reveal the presence of more cetaceans than many people imagine. All the more reason to keep watching around the coastlines and to report sightings to HWDT through this web site.

A map of this sightings from 1 to 30 April can be viewed here


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