Go on watch for whales and dolphins

A still from Jamie Dobson's drone footage of dolphins off the north Northumberland coast.
A still from Jamie Dobson's drone footage of dolphins off the north Northumberland coast.

Scientists at the Sea Watch Foundation are calling on the public to help protect whales and dolphins by getting involved in their flagship summer event.

For more than 40 years, scientists and volunteer observers all around the coast have been reporting on whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) to inform Sea Watch’s huge database of records, making it one of the oldest and longest-running citizen science schemes in the world.

They are calling on people to take part in the National Whale and Dolphin Watch, which is now in its 16th year and takes place from Saturday, July 29, to Sunday, August 6.

Kathy James, sightings officer for Sea Watch Foundation, said: “Many people don’t realise the wealth of whales and dolphins we have around our coasts. You don’t need to go abroad to go whale watching or to have a dolphin experience.

“In recent weeks, bottlenose dolphins have been cropping up all along the south coast of England with other species such as white-beaked dolphins off Northumberland and Risso’s dolphins in the south-west.

“Whitby is famed for its whale-hunting past, but today eager wildlife watchers can hunt minke whales through binoculars instead.

“And you’d be surprised at what you see even in places that aren’t designated hotspots; it’s all about getting out there to spot the animals using your patch and reporting what you see.

“Ultimately, even if you don’t see any cetaceans during a watch, that information is just as valuable to us as it helps us to build a picture all around the UK.”

To find out more about the event, visit www.seawatch foundation.org.uk/nwdw