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 2016

Summer has arrived, and with it, the peak season for seeing cetaceans around our shores. June was a fantastic month for sightings, we doubled our previous month’s number of sightings for harbour porpoises (for the second month in a row), with over 100 sightings reported to us, of 246 individuals. This is fantastic data for us, and shows how big a difference everyone reporting their sightings can make!

We had a good number of sightings of each of our main 4 dolphin species, bottlenose dolphins again being regularly spotted, with 25 reported sightings, particularly around Mull and Barra. We also had 15 reports of common dolphins, the largest pod consisting of 150 animals. We had 5 reports of Risso’s dolphins, in average group sizes of 7 animals, with sightings occurring in various areas throughout the Hebrides. We also had 8 white-beaked dolphin sightings reported to us, most occurring in the northern parts of the Hebrides, often west of the Outer Hebrides, but also 2 sightings near the Skye bridge, a rarer location for them!

Minke whales seem to be continuing to do well, with 31 reports, Mull and Skye both proving particularly good areas for them. However we only had 2 reports of basking sharks in June, which is unusual for this time of year, as by now they have normally begun to arrive in greater numbers. We should hopefully see a large increase within the next few weeks, so keep your eyes open and if you do spot any (or any cetaceans) keep letting us know!

Lastly, a good month for some of the less common sightings we get in the Hebrides, with 3 reports of humpback whales, 2 occurring off the east coast of Lewis, and one off Arran. We also had 8 reports of killer whales, or orca, which is fantastic when considering we had no reports in May. Not all these animals were from our resident pod of orca, the West Coast Community, the ones spotted further north were mostly orca from transient pods that sometimes visit our waters. By looking at their dorsal fins/eye patches, we can identify our resident pod from the transient ones, which allows us to track specific individuals throughout the area.

Sorry for the delay in releasing our monthly roundup, July’s will follow soon, but keep up with the sightings reports, they can really make a massive difference to our understanding of different species movements and behaviour!

To see a map of the sightings from 1 to 30 June 2016, click here

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