The 2020 National Whale and Dolphin Watch event organised by the Sea Watch Foundation involved hundreds of volunteers from all around the British Isles, and it ran between 25th July and 2nd August.
“The most memorable sightings from this year’s Watch week include feeding humpback whales off Grishipoll, in the Inner Hebrides, leaping and fast swimming Risso’s dolphin groups sighted off the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, Orkney and NE Scotland, killer whale pods sighted off Shetland and around Caithness, common dolphins off and large pods of Atlantic white-sided dolphins sighted around Shetland.”
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. For these reasons, every year, we rely heavily on good weather conditions for the success of National Whale and Dolphin Watch. 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.
“Despite the troubling times with coronavirus, 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”, says Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sightings Officer at Sea Watch and lead organiser of this year’s event.