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Whales and dolphins surveys

These two striped dolphins were spotted in Scalloway harbour in October last year. Photo: Austin Taylor

ANIMAL lovers in Shetland are being asked to take part in a nationwide watch of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Four surveys are currently planned in Shetland in the coming fortnight as part of Sea Watch Foundation’s annual campaign.

The organisation is coordinating a host of watching events across the UK between 29 July and 6 August to build a better picture of the marine animals present in the waters around the country.

No experience is necessary and the foundation is happy for people to organise their own surveys.

The four watches currently scheduled in Shetland will be from land and the first will take place at Sumburgh Head between 1pm and 3pm on Sunday (30 July).

The next survey will be at Mousa Sound by the north Sandwick junction car park on Tuesday between 2pm and 6pm.

The third watch will return to Sumburgh Head on 3 August between 2pm and 6pm and the final survey will be at Mousa Sound again on 5 August from 10am to 12pm.

Sea Watch Foundation sightings officer Kathy James said the nationwide surveys help to provide a “crucial” snapshot of marine animals in the UK.

“We want to know what people are seeing on their own doorsteps in order to build the full picture,” she said.

“Even if no sightings are made, the environmental details collected on our watch forms are really important to us, so we’d urge the public to take part at least once throughout the nine-day event.”

Local contact for the watches is Karen Hall of Scottish Natural Heritage on 07557 365880.

Shetlanders, meanwhile, have been enjoying some up close and personal encounters with orcas this week.

However, Scottish Natural Heritage has warned locals not to get too close to the marine animals in the water after concerns were raised about boats potentially disturbing pods of whales.

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