The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is calling on members of the public to record their at-sea excursions and sightings of whales, dolphins, porpoises and endangered basking sharks off Scotland’s west coast to boost monitoring efforts and strengthen understanding of the coronavirus lockdown’s impact on these animals.
With wildlife around the world reported to be taking advantage of reduced human activity, the Trust wants to discover more about what has been happening in Hebridean seas, which are globally important for cetaceans – the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises – and basking sharks.
But the Trust’s ability to gather crucial scientific evidence for the effective conservation of these remarkable animals has been hit hard by the global Covid-19 pandemic – leaving it facing the biggest gap in its data collection for two decades.
The charity’s regular at-sea scientific research expeditions by scientists and volunteers onboard its specialised yacht, Silurian, are cancelled. There has also been an 80 percent decrease in reported sightings of cetaceans by members of the public compared to 2019.
With lockdown restrictions easing, the Trust is appealing to people living and working on the west coast to log their excursions, report sightings and submit photographs through its quick and easy-to-use Whale Track website at whaletrack.hwdt.org or free smartphone app, which works in the most remote areas of the Hebrides without network coverage or WiFi.