Citizen scientists from the Western Isles have made a strong contribution to the 2020 National Whale and Dolphin Watch event, organised by the Sea Watch Foundation.

Island volunteers from around the UK contributed their sightings of whales and dolphins between 25 July and 2 August, adding their spots to the 709 reported sightings logged so far. 

Hebridean sightings from Tolsta, Tiumpan Head in Point and Rodel in Harris, among other locations, helped to put Scotland top of the UK rankings in recorded sightings.

Among the sightings from land-based locations in the islands were numerous sightings of minke whale and common dolphins from Tiumpan Head, as well as one memorable spot of three humpback whales recorded on 26 July.

Risso’s dolphins, harbour porpoise and basking shark were also seen from Tiumpan and bottlenose dolphins from Rodel in Harris, while Brevig, Stornoway, Holm, Ranish and North Tolsta also provided spotters with good results.

In a statement yesterday, Sea Watch’s sightings officer Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, lead organiser of this year's event, said: “Cetacean data collection is strongly weather dependant. Factors such as sea state, swell height and visibility to the horizon affect how easily animals can be detected during a watch. Heavy rain and wind can even cause watches to be cancelled altogether.

“Like previous years, this year's event was scheduled over nine days to increase the chances of coinciding with a favourable weather window. 
The weather forecast was wetter than last year and overall more changeable with hot temperatures mainly recorded towards the end of July. 

"This year's event has shown the strongly supportive and committed spirit of our volunteer observers, which gives us hope for the future of our seas."

Picture: Minke whales are commonly seen from the shore in the Western Isles (Chiara Giulia Bertulli).