Community Sightings Summary: April 2018
The season got off to an amazing start with some incredible sightings flying in through Whale Track during April! We had our first ever sightings submitted from an aircraft thanks to Ewan Miles from Nature Scotland who spotted a minke whale and a group of over 200 common dolphins during an aerial whale-watch with two of his guests.
Another incredible minke whale sighting came from Alex Renton, who sent us in this breath-taking footage of a minke whale that he encountered off Colonsay. This behaviour is called “associating” and it is generally the younger, more inquisitive minke whales that display this behaviour, swimming under and around the vessel to have a look, rolling on their sides to show their white underside and they have even been known to bump boats too.
During April seventy-four people submitted data through Whale Track, recording twenty-eight excursions as well as 161 sightings consisting of 651 individual animals from seven cetacean species. This month alone, we received almost as many sightings as we did over the whole winter period (161 in April 2018 vs 174 between October 2017 and March 2018) and when comparing the number of sightings submitted through the Whale Track app and website in April 2018 against the sightings from April 2017 on the old HWDT website, we have had an astonishing 152% increase in sightings! By using the technology most of us are carrying in our pockets, the Whale Track smartphone app has made it so much quicker and easier to report sightings when out at sea or watching from land. Thank you so much to everyone who has downloaded it so far!
As well as amazing minke whale sightings, on the 21st April, a group of killer whales swam up the Clyde giving some lucky observers a rare opportunity to see these distinctive animals up close. These animals were identified as ‘032 Busta’ and his group which are part of the Northern Isles Community that travel between Iceland and Scotland. There were also killer whale sightings off Stoer Head and the Duirinish peninsula (Isle of Skye).
It has been a good month for bottlenose dolphin sightings too, with 27 reports coming in from between the Kintyre peninsula in the south up to Mallaig in the north, with most sightings around the Isle of Mull. Over half the sightings reports we received this month were of our resident harbour porpoises, with sightings concentrated in the Clyde and off the north coast of Mull. Lastly, there were sightings of Risso’s dolphins off Stoer Head and a humpback off the coast of Arran.
Thanks so much to you all for tracking your excursions and submitting your sightings on Whale Track. It has been a bumper start to the season and we are really looking forward to seeing what the summer has in store!
Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) who generously funded the development of Whale Track.