For over forty years, Sea Watch Foundation scientists as well as volunteer observers all around the coast have been reporting on whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) to inform Sea Watch’s huge database of records. In fact, the scheme is one of the oldest and longest running citizen science schemes in the world. Now it’s your turn to take part in their flagship summer event, the ‘National Whale & Dolphin Watch’ which is now in its 16th year.
“It’s all about reporting your whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings as well as getting out there to look for them” begins Kathy James, Sightings Officer for the research charity.
“Without reports from the public on these magnificent animals we cannot compile data which is used for their protection” continues Kathy.
Cetaceans can be found all around the coast of the UK and recently there have been many species spotted; including bottlenose dolphins all along the east coast of Scotland and the west coast of Wales, Risso’s dolphins off the coast of Cornwall, white-beaked dolphins off Northumberland and harbour porpoises off East Anglia. Minke whales are currently being recorded off the north-east and south-west of England as well as the west and east coasts of Scotland. Killer whales have been making their presence known in Shetland and further south as far as the Scottish mainland.
The charity encourages wildlife-lovers to head to the coast to collect watch data of their own. No experience is necessary and the team at Sea Watch will be happy to set you off on the right foot.
“We need as many eyes on the sea as possible. That means we’re looking for people all around the UK coast to arrange a watch for themselves and for everybody to report the animals that they see” adds Kathy.
During the nine-day 2016 event, eleven different whales and dolphins were recorded in UK waters as well as the tiny harbour porpoise which measures just a metre and a half when fully grown. Some 1424 sightings were logged around the UK which was the highest figure recorded in the events’ history. For more facts and figures from last years’ event, please see the 2016 National Whale and Dolphin Watch report.
Find out more about the event: www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw