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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

Our return to the Islands …!!!

Our 2012 field season on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland began with us taking a slight detour up through the more southerly of the islands so that we could help out our WDCS ShoreWatch team at a local community event being held on North Uist. There was a great turnout and we got to catch up with our existing ShoreWatchers and help to recruit new ones. (For more information on ShoreWatch go to www.wdcs.org/shorewatch)

The North Uist ShoreWatch Team! People from Left to Right; Maya, Sarah, Kila, Anya and Nicola. Dogs from Left to Right: Harvey and Kila
The species (Risso’s dolphin) that we’re hoping to see a lot more of in the coming weeks!

Our resident ShoreWatcher on Lewis had been having some amazing sightings (beaked whales, orca, minke whales, porpoises and common dolphins), and weather the week before we turned up and we were hoping that we were going to be just as fortunate. (On the islands you often hear the phrase “You should have been here last week” a lot!). A wee bit of a low pressure system had followed us across the Minch and although the sun was still shining, for the first 36 hours after our arrival we had gusting winds resulting in a choppy and turbulent sea, not conditions that were conducive for us to be able to see much at sea! At the first opportunity, during a respite from the wind, we ventured up to our land-based site at Tiumpan Head lighthouse to see if conditions had improved enough for us to start watching. Sadly they hadn’t and there was a hefty swell running down through the Minch from the north resulting in white-caps a plenty and accompanied by a bitterly cold Arctic wind. We decided to investigate anyway and before we’d even managed to get our kit out the car, Sarah spotted a large dorsal fin only a few 100m’s off the lighthouse and the call was made … “Orca”! One large adult male was accompanied by two smaller animals (both either females or one female and a sub-adult male) and a calf were sighted (with the size of the male orca dorsal fin even in rough conditions he’d have been difficult to miss!) although it was a relatively brief encounter and after approximately 20 minutes we lost sight of them as they headed out into the Minch and deeper waters. It may have been short-lived but the encounter was nothing short of fantastic!!!

Orca at Tiumpan Head.

With the weather once again closing in and the wind picking up, we decided to take our orca sighting and head for home. Buoyed up by the promise of better weather to come and an orca sighting in our pocket, we were feeling positive about the days to come! Not a bad start to the season we think you’ll agree!!