HWDT Celebrates World Book Day


As the UK celebrates World Book Day, we reflect on the launch of our very own ‘book’!

In October 2018, we launched our Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas; the first part in a series of publications, which showcases the findings and trends from 15 years of visual marine mammal monitoring along Scotland’s west coast. It is beautifully illustrated with close up encounters of the most memorable moments of all 30,000 animals we’ve seen from our research vessel Silurian since 2003!

The Atlas highlights how essential HWDT data are for identifying the most important areas on the west coast of Scotland for cetaceans and basking sharks, and how these data are being used to directly inform marine conservation policies in Scotland.

It also shows how HWDT data can be used to detect trends and changes in the marine environment. For example, the Atlas explains how over the past 15 years we have seen a twenty-fold increase in the number of sightings of common dolphins. Could this be due to climate change? The answer isn’t yet clear, but ongoing monitoring is vital to answering questions like this.

As well as revealing some key discoveries from some of our most enigmatic species, the Atlas is also a testament to all 700 citizen scientists who have joined us on Silurian for one of over 200 research expeditions. Every single data point presented has been collected by one of our volunteer surveyors, contributing to our knowledge and understanding of animal distribution and behaviour in the Hebrides.

The report details how we collect these vital data, how it has been used and also the potential the data holds for future analysis. Profiles of the nine most commonly seen species of cetacean and basking shark show how and when to see them, as well as what we have learnt from our research and an overview of the threats they face.


Subsequent editions in the series aim to celebrate the contribution hundreds of volunteers have made to HWDT and showcase what we have learnt from the data that has been diligently collected, focusing on our acoustic monitoring, photo-identification research and our community sightings network, Whale Track.

Now you can enjoy our Silurian expeditions from your sofa, explore 15 years’ worth of science, and learn about what makes the west coast so special.

Buy your copy today. We rely on the support of our members and volunteers, so by buying a copy you will be helping to support vital monitoring work.

Feeling inspired? Join us on board in 2019.