SeaWatch - Whale & Dolphin Watching


Enjoy watching whale and dolphins in Scotland responsibly whilst helping to monitor their numbers.

Whilst sailing in Scottish coastal waters it is likely that you will see basking sharks, whales and dolphins.

Did you know?

• 24 of the 82 species of whale and dolphins have been recorded in Scotland in the last century. These include common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, harbour porpoises, Minke and Humpback whales.

• The Moray Firth has the world’s most northerly resident population of bottlenose dolphins and has a Special Area of Conservation designation.

• There are more sightings of basking sharks in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

• Protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 means that it is illegal to kill, injure or recklessly disturb cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and basking sharks in British waters. Any person committing an offence could face 6 months in prison.

There is a good chance that you will be lucky enough to see some of our fantastic marine wildlife whilst out sailing. To get the best out of your wildlife watching experience make sure that you know how to act responsibly, with respect and within the law.

The Green Blue have made it easy and our ‘Into the Blue’ CD ROM, launched last year especially for recreational boaters, contains a short video (produced in association with Wildlife Safe,WiSe) explaining how to view and approach wildlife. Full of environmental top tips and advice it is free, so request your copy from The Green Blue now (Email The Marine Wildlife Watching Code, produced by Scottish Natural Heritage, offers practical guidance to all coastal visitors on watching marine wildlife and keeping within the law (Marine Code), so why not keep a copy onboard.

Getting Involved ~ Recording Sightings of Whales & Dolphins

Each year the Seawatch Foundation records sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the UK and uses this information to record a snapshot in distribution, and to monitor population trends and changes. This year they are organising a nine day survey from 21-29th June 2008 all around the British coastline, so why not join in and help record sightings. To find your nearest onshore viewing post visit - there are many locations right around Scotland, including Orkney and Shetland and there are also some organised boat trips to record sightings too. Run by volunteers, these viewing posts offer a great way to learn about viewing and recording wildlife whilst making some great friends at the same time.

Alternatively you can download record forms and record your sightings whilst out sailing yourselves. So, please take this opportunity to record and send in your sightings to Seawatch, it will be greatly appreciated.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, based in Tobermory also have a recording scheme and up to date reports on recent sightings. Visit

Recording Sightings of Basking Sharks & Other Marine Wildlife

For lots of information on sharks, pictures, codes of conduct and to record basking shark sightings visit: Basking Sharks.

Clean Seas and Beaches Reports.