Dolphin and whale watching in the Scotland
20 years ago there was virtually no whale watching in Scotland, but as wildlife tourism became more popular at the same time as the Scottish fishing industry declined, possibly coupled with an increased incidence of marine mammals within UK waters, demand increased as did the opportunity for 'retired' fishermen. There are now more than 40 operators offering whale and dolphin watching in Scotland.
Minke whales are most commonly sighted, but Humpback, Fin, Killer, (Orca are increasingly seen off Shetland) Pilot and Sperm whales can all be seen from time to time, and occasionally Northern Bottlenose and Sei whales are spotted too.
Top 5 sites for whale and dolphin watching in the Scotland
Notable whale, dolphin and marine sightings around the UK and Irish coasts in 2006.
Recent Scotland news
- Seals and porpoises being killed in increasing numbers by ducted propellers
- Rare whale strands on St Kilda
- West coast orca spotted off Scotland's east coast
- Moray Firth dolphins appearing in Firth of Forth this summer
- Dolphins attack on harbour porpoise in Moray Firth
- Largest pod of Scottish sperm whales for nearly 20 years
- Join an Orca watch in the Pentland Firth
- Scottish sperm whales - Animals not known to scientists
- A pod of five sperm whales sighted inshore off North West Scotland
- Britain's only resident orca pod – No breeding for 20 years
- Will Moray Firth dolphins be driven away by increased disturbance?
- Delay to Scotland Marine Plan threatens environment
- Northern bottlenose whale off course in Scottish Loch
- Pilot whales mass strand in Scotland - 10 saved by rescuers
- Pilot whale the highlight of National Whale and Dolphin Watch
More Scotland news
- 14 killer whales hunting seals off John O'Groats
- Orca sighted just metres from Scottish coast
- Orca attack dolphins off north Scotland
- Wildlife and bird tourism worth billions every year
- Firth of Forth dolphin numbers stable
- First sightings of Minke whales and Common dolphins off the Hebrides in 2012
- Keeping Scotland’s whales, dolphins and sharks safe
- Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust 2011 sightings and strandings summary
- Humpback whales off Aberdeen for 2 weeks
- Rare Pygmy sperm whale strands on Scottish Island
- Sperm whale sighted off Skye
- 44 Pilot whales returned to the sea after mass stranding in Scotland
- Sei whale spotted off Scotland
- Killer whales hunting off Fair Isle
- Humpback whale feeding in Aberdeen harbour
Related News Articles
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The Blue whales off the coast of Sri Lanka.
This is one of the best viewing areas in the world with up to 70 whales, including calves, congregating in the seas adjacent to the Bunda cliffs.
- Approach whales from the side, not from the front or the rear.
- Approach no closer than 100 metres and shift your motor into neutral or idle.
- Keep noise levels down - no horns, whistles or racing of motors.
- Start your motor only after the whales are more than 100 metres from your vessel.
- Leave the area slowly, gradually accelerating when you are more than 300 metres from the whales.
- Approach and depart slowly, avoiding sudden changes in speed or direction. Do not "leapfrog."
- Avoid disturbing groups of resting whales.
- Maintain low speeds and constant direction if travelling parallel to whales.
- When whales are travelling close to shore, avoid crowding them near the shore or coming between the whales and the shore.
- Limit the time spent with any group of whales to less than 30 minutes at a time when within 100 to 200 metres of whales.
- If there is more than one vessel at the same observation site, be sure to avoid any boat position that would result in encircling the whales.
- Minimize the time spent and the number of vessels with any one group of whales.
- Limit time, as above, and then move out to allow other vessels access to good viewing positions.
- Coordinate activities by maintaining contact with other vessels, and ensure that all operators are aware of the whale watching guidelines.
- 20th January. 6 Bottle Nose dolphins off Stonehaven. (Courtesy of Ian Sim/Seawatch.)
- November. Humpback feeding off Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, possibly in the area for 2 weeks. Interacting with Bottle Nose Dolphins. (Courtesy of Ian Sim/Seawatch.)
- September. Minke whale found dead on Devon beach.
- August. 2-3 Minke whales off St Abbs Head/Coldingham Bay in Berwickshire.
- August. Minke whale in Fraserburgh Harbour.
- July. Northern Bottlenose whale strands in River Orwell, Ipswich.
- June. Humpback seen off North Devon.
- June. 10 Minke whales sighted off the Isle of Man.
- May. Several Minke sightings off Isle of Man, plus a Sei whale.
- May. Repeated sightings of Orcas off Orkneys
- May. Rare sighting of Bottlenose dolphins in the Channel, click here for details.
- April. Several Orca sightings off Northern Ireland
- April. Fin whale in the Moray Firth.
- April. Orca seen off Isle of Man.
- March. 2 Humpbacks seen off Anglesey/Isle of Mann.
- March. 3 Killer whales seen off Shetland.
- March. Sperm whale strands on Orkney.
- March. 6 Killer whales seen off Orkney.
- March. A pod of 15 Sperm whales seen by fishermen off Caithness.
- January. A pod of nine killer whales seen in the Firth of Forth.
Photos, illustrations, maps, hotspots and plenty of information, by far the best book in its field. Includes information on all whales, dolphins, seals, sea-lions, Polar bears, sea otters, dugong and manatees.
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