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WDCS, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society Join us in watching out for whales and dolphins around Scotland

Issue 1: Spring 2010

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Hello Shorewatchers!

This spring has seen the expansion of the WDCS Shorewatch Programme from our wildlife centres at Spey and North Kessock out to sites around the Scottish Coastline. Since February 2010, almost 70 people have taken part in Shorewatch training sessions around the country, learning how to conduct a WDCS Shorewatch and how to identify the whales and dolphins that frequent Scottish waters and sometimes strand on our shorelines. You are part of a Scotland-wide cetacean montioring network. Although the weather has thrown wind and rain at us all throughout these early spring months, I have been thrilled with your commitment to conducting watches on those days when it is possible. Cetacean sightings have been recorded: Harbour Porpoises, Bottlenose Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins, and Orca have been seen during official watches with Minke Whales and even Pilot Whales also being reported through casual sightings. Please remember, however,

that conducting watches and recording Shorewatch effort even when no whales or dolphins are seen is an equally vital part of the data we are collecting so keep on watching! During our Shorewatches, we talked to almost 400 members of the public during March and April, spreading the word about whales and dolphins in the area, making people aware of this amazing but vulnerable natural resource and potentially recruiting more Shorewatchers. A decision on a proposal that will lift the international ban on commercial whaling for the next ten years is only a few weeks away, yet many people are unaware that this decision is to be made at all. It is a group effort to monitor these animals that are largely below the ocean surface but we must also make sure that they are not ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when decisions are being made. (For more information, visit www.whales.org.) A big thank you for all of your effort this spring and I look forward to hearing from you over the summer. Best,

WDCS Scottish Conservation Officer

WDCS Shorewatch is a network of trained volunteers monitoring the presence and absence of whales and dolphins at selected sites around the Scottish coastline, in order to raise awareness and capture vital data, crucial to the long term future of these amazing animals.

The global voice for the protection of whales, dolphins and their environment WDCS is a registered charity, No. 1014705. WDCS Scotland is a registered charity, No. SCO40231

Shorewatch


Shorewatch News

WDCS, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society Join us in watching out for whales and dolphins around Scotland

Issue 1: Spring 2010

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2 Benbecula (Culla Bay, Airport mound/beach) 3 North Uist (RSPB reserve @ Balranald) 4 Berneray (East Beach, North coast) 5 Strathy Point (The Strathy Inn) 6 Scrabster Lighthouse (The Ferry Inn) 7 Dunnet Head (Seadrift Centre)

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10 WDCS Dolphin & Seal

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11 WDCS Wildlife Centre at Spey Bay 12 Macduff Marine Aquarium 13 Fraserburgh Museum of Scottish Lighthouses 14 St. Combs (RSPB Loch

BND, Minke Whale (casual by Buckie) BND (casual)

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BND = Bottlenose Dolphin HP = Harbour Porpoise RD = Risso’s Dolphin

The global voice for the protection of whales, dolphins and their environment WDCS is a registered charity, No. 1014705. WDCS Scotland is a registered charity, No. SCO40231

Shorewatch


WDCS, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society www.wdcs.org/Shorewatch Join us in watching out for whales and dolphins around Scotland

Shorewatch News Issue 1: Spring 2010

Sightings, Strandings and Events Pilot whales visit the Moray Firth By Sally Marshall

(c) B. Cheney / AULFS

Thursday 6th May 2010, an unremarkable day considering what was going on with elections, and then at about 18.40 when I received a phone call from a neighbour. He was walking his dogs down by Forse Castle and had been made aware of a large group of Pilot whales passing by. He knew that I am involved in the Shorewatch project and so he phoned me.

I decided that I would probably miss them if I tried to drive closer to shore so watched them from my kitchen window. I just couldn’t believe it, the first few went past and then they just kept on coming. They were close in to the cliffs and really clear even though I was some distance away. I could clearly see their shape, fins and tails as they passed along the coast. I am just blown away at the privilege of being about to see such wonderful creatures, especially without even moving out of the house. Definitely one of life’s very special events and something that lots of friends are envious of. Thank goodness I got involved in Shorewatch and then told everyone who would listen or I probably would have missed seeing the whales.

Sperm whale carcass washes up on Dunnet Beach

(c) Annette Ward

Shorewatcher Annette Ward took this picture of a 40-foot long carcass long dead and washed up on Dunnet Beach. Her photographs and information collected by the local Coastguard were sent to the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and the National Museums of Scotland who identified the animal as a sperm whale. If you find a stranded cetacean contact the SAC (01463 243030; strandings@sac.co.uk) with a description, location, size, and freshness - photos will help with identification. WDCS recommends that you do not touch stranded ceteceans.

Monty Halls and WDCS Shorewatch on BBC 2

(c) WDCS

The new, six-part BBC2 TV series, Monty Halls Great Hebridean Escape, began on Wednesday, 21st April at 9pm, and features some of the WDCS team working with presenter, Monty Halls in his quest to become a wildlife ranger on the remote Scottish islands of North and South Uist, Benbecula, Berneray and Barra. Local volunteers from the islands were trained up and are the first Shorewatchers on the west coast of Scotland where the remote and extensive coastline makes cetacean research notoriously difficult.

The global voice for the protection of whales, dolphins and their environment WDCS is a registered charity, No. 1014705. WDCS Scotland is a registered charity, No. SCO40231

Shorewatch


WDCS, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society Join us in watching out for whales and dolphins around Scotland

Shorewatch News Issue 1: Spring 2010

Shorewatch at Strathy Point, Caithness by Donald and Alison Omand Coming from the Highlands, my wife and I have always been interested in the countryside and wildlife. Now that our own children have left home, we have more time to pursue those interests! Birds are our main hobby but, while sea-watching on our frequent trips to Orkney and the north and west coasts, we sometimes see cetaceans, much to our delight. We bought some books on cetacean identification and now make regular trips to the Small Isles and the Inner Hebrides to look for cetaceans. We have also been fortunate enough to visit Newfoundland, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland and Spitzbergen, which were all wonderful experiences, providing us with of sightings of many different cetacean species from blue whales to belugas. While these highlights were very memorable, it is enormously satisfying to find cetaceans on our own doorstep, and the north coast of Scotland has some superb whale-watching sites. Our favourite is Strathy Point in Sutherland, which is not only a good cetacean and bird-watching site, but has fine views of some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland. We have seen four species of dolphin, and also porpoises and minke whale from Strathy Point; some of the sightings have involved dozens of animals.

(c) G. G. Beveridge

The Highland Council Ranger service advertised the local Shorewatch training session earlier this year and we signed up straight away. The training was really useful, and took us through identification skills and the survey process. Shorewatch is a great way for us to make our hobby really help the wider understanding of our local cetacean populations. We try and carry out a Shorewatch once or twice a month. When you do see cetaceans, it is always very special but, even if you don’t see them during a watch, there is always something of interest around, and of course recording an absence of cetaceans is important too. Our very first Shorewatch turned up a pod of Risso’s dolphins and a single bottlenose dolphin. We had excellent views of the Risso’s, and the identification hints we were given during the training course were really handy. We have another watch planned for this weekend…………..

The WDCS Shorewatch Programme is made possible through the generous support of Scottish Natural Heritage

The global voice for the protection of whales, dolphins and their environment WDCS is a registered charity, No. 1014705. WDCS Scotland is a registered charity, No. SCO40231

Shorewatch


WDCS Shorewatch Newsletter, Spring 2010