Joint Warrior Underway in the Hebrides


Joint Warrior, a UK led NATO military exercise, began off the west coast of Scotland on Sunday 31st March. This biannual exercise normally takes place for two weeks each spring and autumn, and is the largest multi-ship, multi-threat exercise conducted by the Royal Navy in UK waters.

Military sonar used during these operations produces an intense loud noise that can disturb and harm whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans). At HWDT, we believe that it is important to monitor cetacean presence and behaviour during these exercises. We have been running monitoring surveys to coincide with the Joint Warrior exercises since 2009 to help understand the impact that these activities may have on cetaceans across the Hebrides.

Our first Expedition Survey of the 2019 field season leaves Tobermory today, and coincides with the Joint Warrior excercise. Silurian and her crew have been joined by six volunteer citizen scientists on this survey to assist with the visual and acoustic monitoring on board.

During the Joint Warrior survey, we use additional protocols, such as video range tracking, which are specifically designed to assess animal behaviour and look for signs of disturbance.


Unusual behaviour has been documented historically and the Trust is committed to identify the impacts, if any, this military activity has on cetaceans in the Hebrides.

If you see any animals in distress, please contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546 or 07787 433412 during out of office hours.

By submitting your sightings on our Whale Track app or website, you can get involved with our monitoring and help us better understand the impact these activities may have on marine wildlife.