The 2016 National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW) received a record number of reports from its participants – 1424 sightings of 7622 individual animals.


Twelve different cetacean species were recorded, including three humpback whales in Scotland and a group of 500 common dolphins.


The humpback whale seen off Aberdeenshire © Eilidh Watson

Sea Watch Foundation’s Kathy James is one of the lead organisers of the event.

She said, “The 2016 NWDW was a huge success. Each year more and more people find out about the event and head to the coast to take part.”

The survey was undertaken in collaboration with a variety of other conservation and recording organisations, including ORCA.


Devon Wildlife Trust volunteer observers at Wembury Marine Centre © Devon Wildlife Trust

The 2017 NWDW will take place on 29 July to 6 August, and James is hoping that even more people will take part.

She said, “Some areas suffer from a lack of observers, so to ensure that your area is represented fairly then please head to the coast this year to join in.

“On average, one whale, dolphin or porpoise was spotted around the UK for each hour of watching. Those are great odds and give you a very good reason to look for yourself!”


There were 234 sightings of bottlenose dolphins during NWDW, consisting of 1292 individuals © Dolphin Spotting Boat Trips (New Quay).

Number of sightings for each species (total sightings = 1424)

Harbour porpoise – 713 (50.07%)

Bottlenose dolphin – 234 (16.43%)

Short-beaked common dolphin – 199 (13.97%)

Minke whale – 120 (8.43%)

Unidentified species – 52 (3.65%)

White-beaked dolphin – 44 (3.09%)

Risso’s dolphin – 21 (1.47%)

Orca – 21 (1.47%)

Humpback whale – 10 (0.70%)

Fin whale – 5 (0.35%)

Striped dolphin – 3 (0.21%)

Sperm whale – 1 (0.07%)


Long-finned pilot whale – 1 (0.07%)


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator