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.

May 2016

It may still be spring, but it definitely feels like summer has arrived early on Mull. Most of May has seen fantastic weather here, perfect for spotting the many different species of cetacean currently active throughout the Hebrides.

As a result, we had lots of sightings reported to us, more than twice the number of harbour porpoise sightings were reported this month compared to April, spread across the whole of the Hebrides. We also had 26 reported bottlenose dolphin sightings, the majority of which occurred all round Mull’s coastline, often seen very close to shore. The average group size was just under 7 individuals, including a pod of around 8 that visited Tobermory bay for a couple of hours last week, a real treat for everyone! Common dolphins were also seen 6 times, in average groups of 10 animals, which is encouraging since they are usually seen further from shore, and so less community sightings are reported.

It wasn’t just a good month for the dolphins, as we had 5 times the number of minke whale sightings compared to April, including a particular hotspot north of Ardnamurchan, near Muck and Eigg. It’s great to see the minke whale numbers increasing, as they continue to return to our waters to spend the summer feeding on small fish species throughout the Hebrides.

Lastly, the rarer sightings we had reported this month included our first two basking shark sightings of the season, both spotted near Barra. We also had two reported pods of Risso’s dolphins, one seen also around Barra, and the other round the northern tip of Lewis. Rarest of all, we had a report of 6 pilot whales spotted between Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Pilot whales are rarely spotted in the Hebrides, as they usually prefer the deeper waters further offshore, but it’s worth keeping an eye out if you’re travelling anywhere near the area. Thanks to everyone who reported sightings to us this past month, your help is both very useful and greatly appreciated, if you spot anything in June, please let us know!

To see a map of the sightings from 1 to 31 May 2016, click here

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