The Sea Watch Foundation is encouraging the public to help protect whales, dolphins and porpoises by getting involved with the National Whale and Dolphin Watch.

This year it takes place between July 28 and August 5. For more than forty years, Sea Watch Foundation scientists and volunteer observers all around the coast have been reporting on whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) to inform Sea Watch’s huge database of records.

The scheme is one of the oldest and longest running citizen science schemes in the world.

“It’s all about reporting your whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings as well as getting out there to look for them,” said Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, sightings officer for the research charity.

“Without reports from the public on these magnificent animals we cannot compile data which is used for their protection.”

Cetaceans can be found all around the coast of the UK and recently there have been many species spotted, including bottlenose dolphins which are sighted almost daily in New Quay at the west coast of Wales and off Chanonry Point in the Moray Firth or even in Aberdeen harbour; they can also be sighted in Liverpool Bay, around the Isle of Man, off the coast of Cornwall and in the Channel Islands.

Harbour porpoises are the commonest and most widespread species in Britain. They can be spotted almost anywhere. White-beaked dolphins are sighted not just off the coast of Northumbria but also all along the east coast of Scotland and in the northern Hebrides, and in Lyme Bay in southern England.

There is no reason to travel as far as Norway or Iceland to see orcas, minkes or humpback whales as all three occur in the spring and summer months around Scotland, Orkney and Shetland.

The charity encourages wildlife-lovers to head to the coast to collect watch data of their own or to join a wildlife tour and collect data at sea. No experience is necessary and the team at Sea Watch will be happy to set you off on the right foot.

“We need as many eyes on the sea as possible. That means we’re looking for people all around the UK coast to arrange a watch for themselves and for everybody to report the animals that they see,” said Chiara.

During the nine-day 2017 event, eleven different whales and dolphins were recorded in UK waters as well as the tiny harbour porpoise which measures just a metre and a half when fully grown. In all, some 1410 sightings were logged around the UK.