Reflecting on a great season for cetacean sightings

Lynsey Bland, Hebrides Cruises Wildlife Guide

With only a few weeks left of the 2017 season, it is clear that it has been a very good year in terms of wildlife sightings, especially of whales, dolphins and porpoise. Minke whales have been spotted on every single trip I have been on this season so far. The best sighting of the season took place just north of Ardnamurchan point on September 2nd. Over 300 common dolphins, 3 minke whales and hundreds of Manx shearwater and gannets, gathered together in one area of the sea, feeding on shoals of mackerel.  This made for an incredible spectacle which is only rarely observed in the Hebrides. Other species spotted this season include bottlenose dolphins, risso’s dolphins and a rare humpback whale.

Reporting sightings via the Whale Track app to HWDT

Whenever we have had a cetacean sighting during the season, data has been collected and reported to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, based in Oban, via the Whale Track app. In August, HWDT launched their new sightings app which makes the reporting of cetacean sightings quick and simple. In just over a month, over 1000 sightings of 8800 animals have been reported to HWDT, proving that the Hebrides is one of the best place in Europe to spot cetaceans.

Hebrides Cruises was involved in the initial testing of the app and have been using it on board both boats since it was launched. I use the app on a daily basis when on board one of Hebrides Cruises vessels and have reported 83 sightings to HWDT this season so far. Other members of the Hebrides Cruises crew, even Chef Ross Harris, have also reported sightings using the app. The data collected is extremely important and it contributes to the understanding of where species are in the Hebrides and how many are in our waters. Hebrides Cruises will continue to use the Whale Track app and we also encourage our guests to get involved and report their sightings to HWDT too.