National Whale & Dolphin Watch 2012
The eleventh National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW) takes place this weekend, starting today [27th July 2012] and continuing over Saturday and Sunday. NWDW is an annual event, organized by the Sea Watch Foundation (SWF), which aims to gather as much data as possible on cetacean sightings in UK and Irish waters. All around the coast, manned watches will be taking place, where volunteers will be scanning the seas for signs that cetaceans are present. You might see a fin, fluke (tail), splashing, blowing (particularly from whales) or even leaping from some individuals. The event is a great way to help collect vital data on the 29 species of marine mammal that can be seen around the British coastline. All data gathered contributes to the SWF's dataset, which has over 60,000 records, making it one of the largest and longest-running sightings schemes in the world. Any data or sightings you can provide are greatly appreciated — even if you don't see anything, it all counts!
Bottlenose Dolphin (Peter Evans/Sea Watch Foundation).
Getting involved is easy, with members of the public invited to take part in the surveys right across the UK. Surveys are either land-based or boat-based, and details of where organized watches are taking place can be found here. There is no prerequisite: just turn up on the day, introduce yourself to the SWF volunteer representative and get watching! Remember to bring warm, waterproof clothes just in case, as well as snacks and water. If you do not have optics, SWF volunteers will have binoculars that you can use.
Alternatively, you can organize your own watch at a site near you. Again, there is no need to be an expert; just download some forms and choose a watch site near you. Danielle, SWF sightings officer, can talk you through the data collection procedure and help you prepare for your watch; to contact either call 01545 561227 or email email@example.com.
If you are out and about around British and Irish coasts this weekend, whether you're sailing, fishing, diving, hiking or just walking your dog, don't forget to keep a lookout and send any sightings to the SWF by email or telephone as soon as possible, so that the website can be updated immediately. The online sightings submission form can be found here, while the general SWF contact page can be found here. Happy watching!