Saturday 25 February 2012

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust 2011 sightings and strandings summary


The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) had another successful research season in 2011 and we couldn't have done it without the support of the public - massive thanks to all those who reported their sightings. 
Sightings reported via the Community Sightings Network in 2011 increased in comparison to 2010 reports; in total 696 were reported to HWDT (482 in 2010). Harbour porpoises were the most regularly sighted cetacean species, although this isn't surprising as Hebridean waters host one of the highest densities of this species in Europe!
After the Harbour porpoise the most frequently reported species were the Bottlenose dolphin, Minke whale and Basking shark. These three species are targets for photo identification and HWDT are very grateful for those members of the public who, as well as reporting sightings, also manage to get identification shots. Although over 80 sightings of Basking shark were reported to us, the number of Basking sharks reported was much lower when compared to 2010. This follows suit with the rest of the UK and marine biologists suggest that, rather than there being fewer Basking sharks, it is more likely that the cooler, unsettled conditions inhibited the stratification of the water column resulting in plankton being found deeper in the water column. If Basking sharks are foraging at depths they are less observable than when ‘Basking' at the surface.

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