by Katie Dyke, Scottish conservation Officer, WDC
Moray sites were to the fore over a weekend that relies on community volunteers to monitor the presence of whales, dolphins and porpoises around Scotland.
WDC asks volunteers to carry out regular 10-minute watches at specific sites to help learn more about how these amazing creatures use our coastline, information which will help in the protection of whales and dolphins.
BWW is an annual event in which many Shorewatchers from across Scotland come together and carry out as many Shorewatches as possible, to give us a “snap shot” of whale and dolphin activity.
BWW June 2015 got off to a great start with Shorewatchers taking to the coast from 4am. Despite the early haar that affected same early watches Friday was a glorious day on the east coast as the sun quickly burned off the haar and a beautiful day began with little wind and calm seas, excellent weather for whale and dolphin watching.
The weather on the north and west coast was a little less forgiving as a stronger wind made it slightly harder to watch, although the weather did not stop the hardy Shorewatcher.
Volunteers from Aberdeen and Isle of Lewis were the first to report sightings early on Friday morning – bottlenose dolphins at Torry Battery, Aberdeen and minke, porpoise and an unidentified dolphin at Tiumpan Head, Isle of Lewis. These sightings were shortly followed by reports of 8 bottlenose dolphins at Cullen.
Teams of local volunteers were staked out at various spots along the coast line, armed with thermos of tea and tins of biscuits, a few volunteers had even brought their camper vans along to offer warmth and shelter to other volunteers as the weather set in.
As the weekend went on the sightings from volunteers came in thick and fast – minke whales off Burghead, common dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and basking sharks off Rodel, Isle of Harris, more bottlenose dolphins off Torry Battery, minke whales off Cullen, Risso’s dolphins and humpback whales off Tiumpan Lighthouse, Isle of Lewis, basking shark, Risso’s dolphins and porpoise at Stoer Lighthouse, Risso’s Dolphins at Strathy lighthouse and bottlenose dolphin off North Kessock, Chanonry and Spey Bay.
Shorewatch volunteers were not only visited by a number of whales and dolphins, but also a number of visitors to the area. In between Shorewatches volunteers engaged with members of the public, offering them the chance to look through scopes and binoculars to get a glimpse of the amazing creatures spotted from our shorelines.
Sightings were recorded on every day over the weekend, as volunteers braved all sorts of weather and watched the sea for hours, with the first watch starting at 4am and the last watch carried out at 11.30pm.
The weekend ended near to midnight on Sunday with three hardy watchers at Burghead watching a setting sun and a highly active humpback whale tail slapping and breaching multiple times.
BWW June 2015 was a weekend full of whale and dolphin sightings and Shorewatch volunteers coming together to share their love of their local area and the wildlife it supports.
Shorewatch relies on local volunteers, if you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Scottish conservation Officer – email Shorewatch@whales.org or telephone 01343 820339