In July 2017, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) is launching a new sightings app, thanks to an award of more than £79,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The app will enable everyone (boat operators and wildlife enthusiast alike) to record and submit their sightings of marine megafauna such as whales, dolphins and porpoises from all across the Hebrides. We are very pleased that Hebrides Cruises is playing a vital part in the development of the app.
Our Wildlife Guide on board our cruises, Lynsey Bland, will be involved in the development and testing of the app as she starts her season on board. She will be responsible for collecting and recording data on the number of animals seen, the species seen and the behaviour being demonstrated by the individual animals. Guests on board will be able to find out more about the app and the importance of the data being provided as well as helping Lynsey to spot wildlife during the cruise.
The project is a development of HWDT’s Community Sightings Network which has been running since 2004 and encourages local communities, wildlife operators and visitors to the area to report their marine wildlife sightings. This data is extremely important because it contributes to the understanding of when and where species occur in the Hebrides, particularly more coastal species such as bottlenose dolphins and rarer species such as killer whales and humpback whales. The app will use technology most of us carry around in our pockets to make the process of recording and submitting sightings more convenient and accessible to all. It will also allow users to keep a record of what they have seen and when as all of the data collected by the app will feed into the web portal, allowing users to interact with the data they collected. The information collected from the app will be used to inform policies to safeguard these amazing species.
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s Science Officer, Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills is responsible for running the app project and is delighted to be working with Hebrides Cruises on this project. She is confident that it will deliver much needed long term monitoring data, as well as engaging local mariners with the amazing wildlife Scotland has to offer
Hebrides Cruises are very pleased to be playing a vital part in the development of the app. Lynsey will be involved in the development and testing of the app as she starts her season on board as Hebrides Cruises Wildlife Guide. She will be responsible for collecting and recording data on the number of animals seen, the species seen and the behaviour being demonstrated by the individual animals. Guests on board will be able to find out more about the app and the importance of the data being provided as well as helping Lynsey to spot wildlife during the cruise.
Lynsey cannot contain her enthusiasm to be joining us on board this season! She is really looking forward to being able to share her knowledge and passion with the guests and collect valuable data along the way. Being able to collect effort-based sightings data and contributing to research on Scottish marine life adds value to what HWDT do. For Lynsey, being able to collect effort-based sightings data and contribute to research on Scottish marine life adds another level to her role with us and significantly adds to the data being collected by HWDT. The app will ensure that this data collection is simplified and it will benefit Hebrides Cruises guests on board by providing a visual tool for displaying the sightings and routes we have taken during each cruise. The app will enhance the guest experience and strengthen our collaboration with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, a relationship which is important to us.