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Whale trail launched on the west coast of Scotland

Bottlenose dolphin in Tobermory harbour
Bottlenose dolphin in Tobermory harbour

A conservation trust has launched a new marine life trail across the Highlands and Islands to promote the preservation of marine life.

The Hebridean Whale Trail offers 33 top destinations along the country’s west coast for land-based sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Basking sharks, seals and other wildlife may also be seen from the trail, which will run across the Hebridean islands and along Scotland’s stunning west coast, encompassing destinations including the lighthouse on the Butt of Lewis, Eilean Glas on the Isle of Scalpay, and the UK most westerly point Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.

The initiative – masterminded by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust – will be the first of its kind in Scotland following a grant of almost £200,000 by the UK Government-funded Coastal Communities Fund.

Karl Stevens, Hebridean Whale Trail Manager said: “Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s best places to catch sight of whales, dolphins and porpoises from land – and you may see bottlenose and common dolphins, harbour porpoise, minke whales and killer whales.

“We want people from all walks of life to visit the Hebridean Whale Trail to enjoy exploring the region’s unique nature, culture and history, and to be inspired to support marine conservation.”

The trail encompasses easily accessible attractions such as the Hebridean Whale Trail Centre in Tobermory, to remote and wild destinations such as the Oa on Islay.

Members of the Trust – which originates on the Isle of Mull – spent 12 months developing the route, by identifying a number of viable sites through engagement with local communities, site and business owners and conservation organisations.

This venture will bring a welcome boost to the local economy supporting local towns and villages through sustainable eco-tourism, providing educational opportunities and improving connections between coastal areas.

Alison Lomax, Director of the trust added: “The trail encourages accessible, low-impact whale-watching from land, which for many is a completely new way of thinking about viewing marine wildlife. Scotland’s west coast is dotted with stunning places where you can quietly watch whales, dolphins, and other wildlife going about their business, from a clifftop or harbour.

“Ultimately we want people to experience the thrill of watching a fin breaking the surface in the distance, and the challenge of identifying which type of whale they’ve seen, sharing that experience with others, and learning about the threats these animals face in our seas.”

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