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Dolphinwatch 2015 makes three times the splash!

Last modified: 19 August 2015

Doplphinwatch

Bottlenose dolphins in Aberdeen Harbour

Image: The RSPB

Record numbers of people visited Aberdeen’s third annual RSPB Dolphinwatch, which ended on Sunday.

Since it started on 16 April, the project has received 5038 visits compared to just 1668 in 2014. Visitors from all over the world including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, France, Mexico, the United States, Canada, Malaysia and of course the UK have been drawn to Torry Battery by the chance to see one of Scotland’s most iconic wildlife spectacles – bottlenose dolphins.

Steve Harris, Chief Executive VisitAberdeen, said: “Dolphinwatch in 2015 has been a triumph and a just reward for all the work put in by the partners over the past three years. Visitors from around the world now associate Aberdeen with dolphins and are coming in rapidly growing numbers.  VisitAberdeen is delighted to have been able to support the project.”

The dolphins have not disappointed either, being spotted on more than 95% of the days the team have been at Torry Battery this year, with some days up to an astonishing 20 dolphins being seen at one time. These spectacular displays are helping confirm Aberdeen’s status as a top dolphin-watching destination.

Aberdeen City Council Communities, Housing and Infrastructure Convener Councillor Neil Cooney said: “It is great that so many people from Aberdeen and all over the world have come to our beautiful city to watch dolphins in their natural habitat. We are very lucky to have dolphins here and Torry Battery is a really good place to spot them – Dolphinwatch has been a great success in encouraging more people to discover what is on their doorstep. We have one of the best places in Scotland with easy access to spot dolphins, and we hope many more thousands of people will come and see them.”

RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch team have helped the thousands of visitors, including Aberdeen City Council Chief Executive Angela Scott and Lewis MacDonald MSP, get great views of the bottlenose dolphins in Aberdeen Harbour as well as running events from guided walks and rockpool rambles to beach cleans and litter picks.

Paul Kendall is one of RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch people engagement officers. He said: “There’s so much to celebrate about Dolphinwatch this year – my favourite thing was watching three calves playing together earlier in the year. It’s also been great to talk to so many enthusiastic people about the dolphins and marine wildlife. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has contributed to making the project such a success especially our dedicated volunteers”.

Fifteen people have regularly volunteered as part of Dolphinwatch this year. Working through rain, wind and sunshine to help people get the most out of their visits, they have contributed a massive 853 hours of their time.

Helen Hiley is the other RSPB Scotland Dolphinwatch people engagement officer. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed working at Dolphinwatch this year. Aberdeen is such an amazing place for dolphins – I’ve loved watching them toss the fish and I’ve really liked getting to know the individual dolphins and seeing one, Quasimodo, a lot.”

Individual dolphins can be identified by unique marks and nicks in their dorsal fins. The dolphin known as Quasimodo is one of the most recognisable of all the dolphins found in a photo-identification catalogue which shows well-marked dolphins seen by the University of Aberdeen and the University of St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland since 1989. The Dolphinwatch team had a copy of the catalogue on site to show visitors and it can be viewed online at www.abdn.ac.uk/lighthouse/gallery.

As part of the project, RSPB Scotland staff and volunteers were also trained by Whale and Dolphin Conservation staff so that they could contribute to WDC’s Shorewatch programme which monitors the presence of whales, dolphins and porpoises in order to protect them.

Katie Dyke, WDC Scottish conservation officer, said:  ‘WDC’s Shorewatch volunteers conduct watches from local sites, and the data is used to identify long term trends in whale and dolphin movements. This year the Dolphinwatch team have contributed a valuable 125 watches from Torry Battery, which will help towards our longer-term aims of understanding how whales and dolphins use the Scottish seas. Dolphinwatch may have finished for 2015, but WDC Shorewatch continues throughout the year across many sites around Scotland. Those who have got a taste for conservation in action and who want to join WDC’s Shorewatch at Torry Battery or another site, can do so by contacting Shorewatch@whales.org to find out about the next training course.”

RSPB Dolphinwatch is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, Visit Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Harbour Board, Scottish Natural Heritage and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), with binoculars and telescopes provided by Viking Optical. It started in 2013 and has grown bigger and better each year. If you would to feedback about how the project can be improved next year visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/P676HNF.

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