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Research Projects

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Working on a number of research projects, we are always on the lookout for ways to better understand and protect marine life.

 

Projects include:

 
  • Monitoring Migratory Minke Whales
  • Tracking Hebridean Bottlenose Dolphins
  • Whale Track App
 
  • Preventing Large Whale Entanglement
  • Building Evidence for Policy Change
  • Monitoring Scotland’s Killer Whales
 
 
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Preventing Large Whale Entanglement

Marine mammal entanglements are a growing problem in Scottish waters; for minke whales it is the single largest cause of death (up to 40% of all recorded mortalities). HWDT are a member of the Scottish Whale Entanglement Project, working to understand and reduce the risk of animals becoming entangled in creel (fishing pot) lines in Scottish waters. Earlier this year, new information cards were published, providing emergency contact details and guidance on entanglement.

Download the reducing entanglement cards

 
 
 
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Building Evidence for Policy Change

HWDT established much of the evidence base for Scotland’s first proposed marine protected areas for minke whales and basking sharks. Data from the Cetacean Monitoring Programme and advice from HWDT have been instrumental in discussions leading to the formation of, what was at the time, Europe’s largest protected area for harbour porpoise, supporting over 5,000 animals. 

Become a Cetacean Monitoring Programme volunteer

 

 
 
 
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Monitoring Scotland’s Killer Whales

HWDT and its research partners discovered the decline of the UK’s only resident population of killer whales. Frequently seen in the Hebrides, the eight remaining members of the small isolated group of killer whales, known as the West Coast Community, are individually identified, catalogued and monitored by HWDT.

View the killer whale species ID guide

 
 
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Monitoring Migratory Minke Whales

To date 226 individual minke whales have been identified and catalogued in the Hebrides. Monitoring activities, taking place since 1990, have highlighted the importance of the Sea of Hebrides as an important feeding ground for these migratory whales, with animals returning to these same feeding grounds year after year.

View the minke whale species ID guide

 
 
 
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Tracking Hebridean Bottlenose Dolphins

HWDT has been tracking individual bottlenose dolphins in the Hebrides since 2001, using photographs of their distinct markings to identify them. We have discovered there are two separate groups which live in the area all year round; an Inner Hebridean group of 35 animals, and a smaller group of 12 dolphins in the Barra Sound.

View the bottlenose dolphin species ID guide

 
 
 
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Whale Track App

Whale Track provides a quick and easy way for the public to record and submit their sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises from across the west coast of Scotland. It is the first UK based biological recording app to use GPS tracking technology at sea. Designed to work even in the most remote areas of the Hebrides, without network coverage or WIFI, it will allow anyone to contribute to our research, from fishermen to tourists.

Download the Whale Track app here 

 

Please support these efforts by making a donation or becoming a HWDT Member.