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Be a Whale and Dolphin Researcher on the West Coast this Summer

Involve yourself directly with whale and dolphin research in Scotland; visit some of the remotest islands in the Hebrides, witness breath-taking scenery, gain sailing skills and contribute to the protection the marine environment – all in one trip!

Twenty-four cetacean species have been recorded in the waters off the west coast of Scotland, one third of the global total, making it one of the most abundant areas in Europe.  However little directed research had been carried out until the Mull based charity the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust started scientifically monitoring populations using coherent data collection methods.

As an integral part of the field team onboard our research vessel, Silurian, you will be helping us to collect data that our science department will then use in logistical analysis, contributing to the publication of scientific papers.

Ultimately HWDT endeavors to better understand the distribution, relative abundance and habitat preferences of cetaceans in the survey area.  As well as noting any changing trends in the data, the information collected plays an integral role in the construction of marine conservation strategies. 

We use a combination of visual and acoustic methods to monitor cetaceans. Photographs of the animal’s dorsal fin can identify individuals using recognisable marks and features.  A number of bottlenose dolphins and minke whales have been re-photographed by us over several seasons (some since we began operations), enabling us to build up a better picture of their movements, range and interactions.

Although our main focus is cetaceans, there are many other marine species in these waters that you will have the opportunity to observe. There’s a very high possibility we’ll encounter basking sharks, the second largest known fish in the world, common and grey seals, otters, sunfish and many thousands of nesting and breeding seabirds.  The areas surveyed are some of the most spectacular in the British Isles and the landscapes certainly won’t disappoint.  Each night we will moor in a secluded bay and venture onto land to explore some of these, often uninhabited, islands.

HWDT are running 5 surveys in 2009, please contact the volunteer coordinator, Morven, for more information on dates and costs or if you are keen to join.

More information:
Contact Morven Summers, Volunteer Coordinator
Email: volunteercoordinator@ hwdt.org
Tel: 01688 302620

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