Community sightings summary: June 2017
The Community Sightings Network reported a total of 127 sightings of 890 whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) in June 2017. Although quiet compared to May (244 sightings), there have been some remarkable encounters this month.
Unusually, it was the minke whale and not the harbour porpoise that was the most commonly reported species, with a total of 34 sightings of 53 minke whales and only 24 sightings of 65 harbour porpoises. We suspect that bad weather and poor visibility throughout June reduced the number of sightings overall and also made it harder to spot the relatively tiny harbour porpoise, growing up to a mere 1.7m in length.
An impressive number of humpback whales were spotted this month, with 5 sightings of 7 individuals. Spectacular behaviour was reported including breaching, tail slapping and pectoral (fin) slapping. With the longest forearms of any mammal, slapping their pectoral fins onto the surface of the water makes for an impressive display.
White-beaked dolphins appeared more common than usual this month, with 8 sightings of 79 individuals, including one sighting of a pod of 52 dolphins seen off Tiumpan Head. One lone white-beaked dolphin was seen in Loch Linnhe for several weeks; unusual behaviour for this species that tend to prefer deeper waters further north. Thanks to Jamie Ball for monitoring this individual for us.
There were also some remarkably large pods of Risso’s dolphins spotted throughout the Sea of the Hebrides, with 6 sightings of 123 individual. The Sea of Hebrides is an important area for many cetacean species, where there is a rich food supply due to diverse seabed habitats, and complex tides and currents. Top tip: diving seabirds are a great indicator of cetacean presence below the surface.
Thanks as always for your sightings and please keep them coming.