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An orca named 'Hulk' off Caithness, Scotland

My amazing week watching orcas in Scotland

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WDC Shorewatch – Big Watch Weekend

 

WDC Shorewatch is a trained network of volunteers who conduct shorewatches to monitor the presence and absence of cetaceans around the Scottish Coast.  WDC Shorewatch hold a bi-annual event called Big Watch Weekend. This calls on all our shorewatchers around the Scottish Coast to get out and conduct as many watches as possible during the daylight hours.

The weather was fairly kind (to most of us)! We had a total of 35 shorewatchers taking part, who between them, clocked up 32 hours of shorewatching time! A really great effort from everyone, thank you to all of you who managed to take part. I managed to get a fair bit of data for Spey Bay, Scottish Dolphin Centre – starting my first watch at 4am on Saturday morning! It was worth getting up for – the sunrise was beautiful and I had dolphins from 04:34. They stayed at the Scottish Dolphin Centre for thirteen hours after that and also put in an appearance for the beach fire event that was held on Saturday evening.

 

I visited a few of our more local shorewatch sites, including; Nairn, Fort George and Cullen. It is always great to meet up with fellow shorewatchers and spend some time at the different sites. I also had the big eyes (super magnification)! at some of the sites and was lucky enough to see bottlenose dolphins through them, magic!

There were many sightings across the 11 shorewatch sites who participated, including; bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoise, rissos dolphins and of course, the very exciting orcas!

I am pleased to announce the winners of the three competitions we had running and the prizes they have won for themselves or their shorewatch site;

1) Highest number of active shorewatchers at one site – Rodel, who have won themselves a whale and dolphin ID book
2) Highest number of watches conducted by individual shorewatcher – Graham Kidd with 31 watches, he has won himself a WDC woolley hat
3) Best photograph – A very tough decision, Graham Kidd had a great shot with himself and his dog, Indi, with shorewatch vests on, which is up on the facebook group page, but the winner is Cath Bain with her shot of the osprey with a fish! Cath has won herself a car sticker, WDC badge and laminate Cetacean ID Guide

 

It was great to see our Facebook page filling up with posts from various watches – it is a really  great way to keep the shorewatching community connected! All the data that we receive is vital to the project, whether cetaceans are present or not.

The next Big Watch Weekend will be on 12th-14th September 2014, if anyone is interested in joining our shorewatching team, please get in touch to find out when the next training session is in your area; T: 01343 8203369 E: [email protected]

Once again I would just like to thank all of our shorewatch volunteers for their time and effort, we couldn’t do it without you!  The work that you do helps to protect the cetaceans by raising awareness and providing the data to evident their vital habitats, giving us justification to campaign for Marine Protected Areas.

Just for good measure, here’s a snapshot of some of our lovely watchers at Tiumpan Head in Lewis.

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.