Call to keep your eyes peeled for marine wildlife

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Get your binoculars at the ready for the annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW) event later this month.

For the past 16 years this national recording event - which takes place from Saturday 28th July until Sunday 5th August - has been organised by The Sea Watch Foundation.

The Foundation monitors whales, dolphins and porpoises in British waters with the help of volunteer citizen scientists.

Around Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland Isles orcas have been spotted travelling very close to the shore, and lucky ferry passengers were amazed to spot them frolicking in the waters in the River Clyde.

White-beaked dolphins have been sighted offshore St Kilda archipelago, and as far north as Lewis.

Humpback whales were sighted surface feeding and breaching from a cliff at Lammerlaws in North East Scotland at the beginning of this year.

A unique sighting of a mixed-species association of bottlenose dolphins and Risso’s dolphins was also reported close to the shore of the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides.

Sea Watch Regional Coordinator for the Inner and Outer Hebrides is the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, a charity which has got a unique community-based programme, where communities are directly involved in collecting biological recordings of local cetacean species.

Pippa Garrard, the Trust’s Community Engagement Officer, said: “The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Community Sightings Network has allowed people from all walks of life to collect cetacean sightings carrying out broad scale, long-term monitoring of the environment while fostering earth stewardship.

“We hope that National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2018 is going to draw positive attention and interest like in the past.”

Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sightings Officer for Sea Watch Foundation, added: “No experience is necessary, vital data for the protection and conservation of whales and dolphins can be collected sharing this magical event with people from around Scotland and who can have fun all together.”

All you need to bring with you is patience, a lot of enthusiasm, binoculars, and sightings forms and a cetacean identification guide (downloadable from the Sea Watch website).

The suggestion is for people to conduct their land watches for a minimum of one hour and to work in groups to take turns during data collection.

Find out more about the event: HERE