Land-based observations in Shetland
We carry out field work both in the summer and winter, coinciding with the main harbour seal breeding season in June-August and grey seal breeding in October-November. Preliminary field data collection started already in 2019, but field work in 2020 was postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19. See the project blog about continued field efforts in 2021 and 2022. Julia will return to Shetland in summer 2023 for her last field season as part of her PhD. In Shetland, we work closely with Karen Hall, Hugh Harrop and other members of the Shetland Orca Sightings network. We welcome contributions by everyone interested in recording their observations of killer whales and their prey species, including grey and harbour seals, whether based on the isles or mainland Scotland (how to get involved).
Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM)
We deployed acoustic recorders in Scapa Flow, Orkney in July-August 2019, and have continued recording in Scapa Flow (Orkney) in 2021, near Duncansby head (Caithness) in 2021, and in Shetland in 2022. The aim is to acoustically record killer whales and harbour seals in areas of concern for the seal population, and describe the underwater soundscape, including ambient noise levels. The deployments are kindly supported by Marine Scotland Science and the Northern Lighthouse Board. Thanks to the local sighting networks in Orkney (Orkney Cetacean Sightings and OMMRI), we are able to look for acoustic detections at times when killer whales are sighted in the Flow. For more information on the Scapa Flow deployment, see this brief blog.