Shetland Porpoise Survey

Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) are the smallest of the cetaceans to be spotted around Shetland. They are generally shy creatures and do not often approach boats but can be easily spotted from the shore. They are resident in Shetland and unlike the rest of mainland UK, where they are generally seen alone or in small groups, in Shetland they can be seen in aggregations of 50+ animals!

Despite them being commonly spotted we have limited records and do not fully understand seasonal variations in the areas they congregate and for what purpose. To fill this knowledge gap we are undertaking a porpoise survey in areas porpoise are commonly seen.

Copyright WDC/Charlie Phillips

In collaboration with Whale and Dolphin Conservation we have created two new Shorewatch sites, one overlooking Quendale Bay and one at South Nesting Bay. We will also be surveying from the already established Shorewatch site at Mousa Sound. The survey involves undertaking a watch and recording the presence of marine mammals. If porpoise are present further information will be collected on number of individuals and their behaviour. This data will be used by the NatureScot and the NAFC Marine Centre UHI to update the Marine Spatial Plan and will assist in protecting areas that are important to these wonderful creatures.

To gather as much information as possible we need your help! Are you interested in marine mammals and have time to undertake a short watch from one of our survey sites? All equipment needed is in survey kits which are available at the survey sites in lockboxes 24hrs a day so watches can be done at your leisure. Don’t worry if you have limited experience as full training on marine mammal ID from experts Whale and Dolphin Conservation is provided! A great way to start your marine mammal spotting journey.

Contact us at shetlandcommunitywildlife@outlook.com for more information or head to the Shorewatch website for more information on the Shorewatch project.