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Citizen scientists, researchers, and wildlife enthusiasts in Caithness invited to take part in National Whale and Dolphin Watch

By David G Scott

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The Sea Watch Foundation (SWF) is delighted to announce the return of National Whale and Dolphin Watch, a 10-day-long citizen science event taking place from July 26 to August 4.

Volunteers across the UK are invited to join trained experts at designated watch sites around the country to observe and record sightings of marine mammals. By collecting this data, the event contributes to ongoing scientific research, helping to monitor population trends, distribution, and behaviour of these creatures.

Sea Watch Foundation poster.
Sea Watch Foundation poster.

Now in its 23rd year, National Whale and Dolphin Watch has become an important event for citizen scientists, researchers, and wildlife enthusiasts. Last year, around 1000 volunteers participated, recording sightings of 11 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

There were over 1400 sightings submitted to the National Sightings Database over the 9 days. Memorable sightings included seven long- finned pilot whales off Aberdeen, two sightings of white-beaked dolphins off Shetland and 8 sightings of fin whales.

A pod of orcas seen off the Caithness coast. Picture: Gavin Bird
A pod of orcas seen off the Caithness coast. Picture: Gavin Bird

Claudia Afeltra, SWF communication and outreach officer, said: “By gathering data on cetacean abundance, distribution, and behaviour, we contribute valuable insights into marine mammal health and ecosystem dynamics, informing vital conservation efforts. All while educating members of the public on the importance of these species.”

National Whale and Dolphin Watch is an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in marine conservation and make a meaningful contribution to the protection of marine mammals. No special knowledge is needed to take part. Keen observers can sign up to training courses, or use the free SeaWatcher App and species guides to get involved.

To find out more and get involved in National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2024, visit the SWF website at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/nwdw

SWF is a UK-based charity dedicated to the conservation and protection of whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the UK.

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