Now Launched: our first edition of the Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas

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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.

This pioneering research is transforming our understanding of the Hebrides’ remarkable cetaceans, while offering new insights about trends and changes in the marine environment.
— Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, Science and Policy Manager at Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

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.

It is increasingly clear that the Hebrides is a truly special place for cetaceans and basking sharks, and that we need to do far more to protect them and their environment. I had the great pleasure of sailing on Silurian and I am thrilled to be able to lend my support to such an outstanding organisation which works directly towards these goals.
— Liz Bonnin, Science & Wildlife Presenter, HWDT Patron

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

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.

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