Now Launched: our first edition of the Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas
Today marks a very special day for us here at HWDT as we have released our new Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas, presenting key discoveries made over the past 15 years.
This first edition of the Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas showcases findings during annual research expeditions on its specialized yacht, Silurian. The findings highlight the Hebrides’ extraordinary biodiversity and shed new light on its whales, dolphins and porpoise – collectively called cetaceans – and basking sharks.
The Atlas also celebrates the contribution of over 700 paying volunteers who have joined one of 200 research expeditions on Silurian, making the surveys possible year after year.
So far, 23 cetacean species, a quarter of all known globally, have been recorded in the Hebrides. Since 2002, Silurian has travelled more than 100,000 kilometres - the equivalent of sailing two and a half times around the world - and 30,000 animals have been recorded.
Discoveries include the Hebrides being a vital feeding ground for minke whales and basking sharks, and that the region is one of the most important areas for harbour porpoise in Europe. The evidence was used to identify the boundary of Scotland’s first protected area for harbour porpoise, approved by the Scottish Government in 2016.
Human impacts on the marine environment, including entanglement, marine litter, and underwater noise, are also monitored on the surveys. The scale of such threats is often still unclear.
With sea temperatures rising in the Hebrides, climate change may be a cause of a 20-fold increase in common dolphin sightings, as this species is generally found in warmer seas. Ongoing research is vital for monitoring such trends.
If you want to join us onboard Silurian for one to two week surveys in 2019, our survey timetable is now LIVE. Fees cover boat expenses, accommodation, training, food and insurance, and support the research.
The new atlas has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players, following a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.
Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas can be downloaded at hwdt.org/hebridean-marine-mammal-atlas.
You can also purchase a copy (while stocks last). Price includes postage and packaging. Please note we are only able to deliver to UK addresses.