We were delighted to hear that the Scottish Government is to fund consultation on four Marine Protected Areas in Scotland for whales, dolphins and sharks.

The Scottish Government have announced funding to allow public consultation on four proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scottish waters. The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) based in Tobermory on Mull has been working hard, in partnership with others, to call for the government to progress the MPA’s. HWDT have provided important research on cetaceans and basking sharks on the west coast of Scotland to provide the scientific evidence needed to make the case for providing these protected sites.

HWDT have pioneered the conservation of whale, dolphins and porpoises in the Hebrides for over 20  years, undertaking research on minke whales,  basking sharks, and other species.   Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills of HWDT stated “ The proposed sites will protect the breeding and feeding grounds of some of Scotland’s most charismatic marine species including minke whales, Risso’s dolphins and basking sharks and are central in a move towards a national network of MPAs that will help protect our amazing seas.”

Hebrides Cruises works closely with HWDT, with many of our Wildlife Guides having worked or volunteered for the organisation.  Our guides use the new HWDT app to provide information on cetacean sightings from our cruises and are expert at finding species to help inform the reports and the research. HWDT was a key data provider for Sea of the Hebrides site which will include the protection of minke whale and basking sharks. The MPAs will protect important feeding and breeding grounds for minke whales, especially in the Sea of Hebrides, which the majority of our cruises visit.

The three proposed MPA sites within our cruising area are shown on the map on the left – (1) the Sea of the Hebrides  2.) North East Lewis 3.) Shiant East Bank.  The fourth site is the Southern Trench on the North east coast of Scotland. Map courtesy of HWDT.

Hebrides Cruises are a WiSe accredited company, with all our crew members certified and Skipper and Owner Rob Barlow awarded a Gold WiSe Standard of the WiSe ‘Masters’ Course. As a WiSe operator Hebrides Cruises has strict Codes of Conduct for the wildlife we view, ensuring no disturbance of the basking sharks, whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and seabirds that our guests love to witness