A new annual week-long festival boosting the profile of The Hebrides as an internationally-important hotspot for whale spotting and conservation action launched on World Oceans Day (Sunday, June 8th), in what is believed to be the first event of its kind in Scotland.
Humpback whales, orcas and bottlenose dolphins will take over Tobermory on the Isle of Mull this week as conservation charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) celebrates its 20thanniversary with its first Whale Week.
HWDT hopes that the local community, schools and tourists will be inspired to help ensure the long-term survival of these remarkable marine creatures, which are facing increasing stress from human activities including climate change, habitat degradation, pollution, entanglement in fishing gear, and underwater noise.
So far 24 cetacean species – including several national and international conservation priorities – have been recorded in the region.
“We want Whale Week to create a real buzz about western Scotland’s wonderful whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks,” said Eva Varga, HWDT Operations Manager.
“We are fortunate to have one of Europe’s most important habitats for these remarkable marine creatures – and by raising awareness and protecting them we can bring economic and social benefits to the entire region.”
HWDT works to secure the future of western Scotland’s cetaceans and their marine environment by enhancing knowledge and understanding through education, research and engagement with local communities.
People can support crucial research by reporting sightings of cetaceans and basking sharks, or by volunteering alongside marine scientists on research expeditions.
For a schedule of Whale Week events, please call 01688 302620 or visit www.hwdt.org