National Whale and Dolphin Watch sees record sightings reported

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Record numbers of whale and dolphin sightings have been submitted to an annual marine mammal monitoring event, according to organisers.

Every year scientists at the Sea Watch Foundation ask members of the public to contribute to their National Whale and Dolphin Watch.

This year’s event runs until August 5, and has already seen a record number of species spotted across the UK, from Shetland down to south Devon and from the west coast of Wales to the Outer Hebrides.

More than 200 sightings have been reported, with the number expected to rise further by the weekend.

The scheme, in its 17th year, is part of efforts to inform Sea Watch’s database and aid protection and conservation.

Species spotted so far include bottlenose dolphins, seen in New Quay along the west coast of Wales, off Chanonry Point in the Moray Firth, in Aberdeen harbour, in Liverpool Bay, around the Isle of Man, off the coast of Cornwall, and in the Channel Islands.

Harbour porpoises are the most common and widespread species in Britain, and can be spotted almost anywhere, with records coming in from across the country.

White-beaked dolphins have been sighted just off the coast of Northumbria as well as all along the east coast of Scotland, in the northern Hebrides, and in Lyme Bay in southern England.

Orcas, minkes and humpback whales have been reported in the last few days around Scotland and the east coast of England.

The Sowerby’s beaked whale was seen off Scotland’s east coast at Dunbar, while common dolphins have entered the Menai Straits between Anglesey and the North Wales mainland.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins have been seen in Stromness Harbour, Orkney.

Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, sightings officer for Sea Watch Foundation, said: “We need as many eyes on the sea as possible.

“That means we’re looking for people all around the UK coast to join a manned watch or arrange a watch for themselves, and for everybody to report the animals that they see as soon as possible.

“For me, National Whale and Dolphin Watch is about involving people and allowing them to experience something they never thought they could be part of, it is about collecting vital data for the protection and conservation of local cetacean species, and it is about sharing this magical event with people from all other the country and have fun all together.”

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