There’s a rich array of aquatic wildlife around Britain
And now, scientists at Sea Watch Foundation are looking for marine mammal enthusiasts around the country who want to help to collect records of whales, dolphins and porpoises and become involved in their marine conservation work.
Every year, the foundation encourages wildlife enthusiasts around the UK to support National Whale and Dolphin Watch, a citizen science project.
The event this year is taking place from Saturday, July 27 until Sunday, August 4 and organisers are hoping there will be a positive response from the public.
The NWDW 2018 recorded more than 1,300 hours of watches with participants looking out for whales, dolphins and porpoises from Shetland to the Isles of Scilly and reporting around 8,000 individual animals of thirteen species from land and at sea.
Last year, the number of cetacean sightings recorded was 1,626 which was a record figure, possibly due to the good weather last summer, with high temperatures which brought in warmer water species such as striped dolphin, and created the conditions for plankton fronts to develop, attracting shoals of fish and whales and dolphins.
The most memorable sightings recorded during the 2018 included humpback whales in Aberdeenshire, striped dolphins in South Wales, Sowerby’s beaked whale in East Lothian, fin whales in the Outer Hebrides, and large pods of short-beaked common dolphins off Puffin Island and Menai Bridge in North Wales.
No previous experience is needed, so anyone who wants to take part and who is in the UK during the event can help.
All that people need is patience, a lot of enthusiasm, binoculars, and sightings forms and a cetacean identification guide (downloadable from the Sea Watch website).
The Sea Watch staff is suggesting for people to conduct their land watches for a minimum of one hour and to work in groups to take turns during data collection.
Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, sightings officer at Sea Watch Foundation, said: “National Whale and Dolphin Watch is about involving people and allowing them to experience something they never thought they could take part in.
“It is about collecting vital data for the protection and conservation of local cetacean species, and it is about sharing this magical event with people from all other the country and have fun all together”.
“More than 600 watches (both land and boat-based) have already been organised around the country in many different locations. Please get in touch to find out more.”
Further information is available at: www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw