Have you been watching killer whales in coastal areas of Scotland? Or are you planning to spend some time in areas where you might see killer whales, especially in places where you might also find seals? Either way, you can contribute to scientific research by recording your observations.
When watching whales, we ask you to make multiple sightings of the same individual and its associated group, as much as possible. These “focal follow” observations help us estimate how much killer whales spend time in different activities (their time budget) and how many seals may be affected as a result. Even when killer whales are absent, observations of their coastal habitat entered in the “effort form”, are a valuable contribution to the project.
You can either download & print the forms (pdf here), or fill the forms online (effort form, sighting form). To quickly add a sighting of the same group of whales within the same day, please use the “Follow-up” form.
If using printed forms, please remember to return both the consent and observation forms. Either 1) email pictures/scans of the filled pages to email@example.com, or 2) post to Saana Isojunno, Sea Mammal Research Unit, East Sands, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8LB.
Never disturb wildlife – keep your distance, use binoculars, minimize noise, and leave the animals at the first sign of disturbance. Know the signs; seals can be particularly vulnerable while resting on land. To learn more, see the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code.
Entering location information – please include location and area description, and coordinates whenever possible. For coordinates, feel free to use a format that works for you (such as decimal degrees, or degrees + minutes, or British grid references). We will convert all location data to decimal degrees (e.g., 58.64400, -3.02481). Coordinates in this format can be found on Google maps by right clicking the location of interest and selecting ‘what’s here?’.
- Photo-identification of individual killer whales
- SMRU pdf guide to identifying grey vs. harbour seals
The form aims to collect additional data while being consistent with those designed by Sea Watch Foundation and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. Any sightings that are submitted to us, we will forward in an anonymized format to Sea Watch and HWDT.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or feedback. Thank you for taking part!