Scottish marine life
Scotland is at a crossroads of climatic zones and ocean currents, and of arctic and temperate species. The landscape is enormously complex and varied, with a patchwork of habitats supporting a staggering and unique range of species.
Scotland has over 11,000km of coastline, representing one of the largest inshore areas of any country in the EU. These waters are amongst the most beautiful in the world, supporting a dazzling diversity of sea life including basking sharks, a range of whales and dolphins, seals, otters, white-tailed eagles and nationally important populations of seabirds.
Earthwatch runs two popular marine projects around Scotland's coast, providing a unique opportunity to explore these waters, working side-by-side with scientists and to experience close encounters with inspiring marine wildlife.
The spectacular western Isles of Scotland are one of the most unspoiled areas of Europe with a diverse landscape of beautiful beaches, mountains, cliffs, sea lochs and woodland. The islands, each with its own unique character, are rich in Highland history, culture and traditions.
The waters around the coast of southwest Scotland are warmed by the Gulf Stream and are some of the least polluted in Europe. They are arguably one of the most important areas for cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in Europe with 24 species recorded to date.
As a participant on Whales and Dolphins of the Hebrides you will become part of the research team on board the research vessel Silurian alongside Dr. Peter Stevick and colleagues of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. You will undertake a range of monitoring activities including photo-identification and acoustic monitoring using the latest technology, helping the scientists to identify 'hot-spots' for whales and dolphins in the area, which may become protected areas in the future.
The Moray Firth, northeast Scotland
The waters of the Moray Firth are fed by warm and cold currents from the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans - as a result they are particularly productive and rich in marine wildlife, being one of the important areas for whales, dolphins and porpoises in the whole of Western Europe. Seabirds including gannets, auks, shearwaters and storm petrels are also present in nationally important numbers. The Firth is surrounded by heritage fishing villages, stunning rolling farmland and majestic cliffs, and supports the only population of bottlenose dolphins in the North Sea.
By taking part in Dolphins and Whales of Moray Firth you can help Dr Kevin Robinson and colleagues from the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit to collect essential data on the whales and dolphins of the Firth. Cetacean species in the area have, until now, been poorly documented, but are of high conservation priority. You will be contributing to an improved understanding of their behaviour, biology and habitat preferences and therefore to their conservation. You will be trained to spot and identify cetacean species, take photographs for identification purposes and record key data. You will also be on call should a stranding occur, and may even have the chance to help out in a rescue.
Area: 78,790 sq km
Languages: English, Scottish Gaelic
Local currency: Pounds sterling (GBP)
Time Zone: GMT/UTC 0 (Greenwich Mean Time, British Summer Time during Daylight Saving)
Electricity: 230 volts (240 is within tolerances and commonly found), 50 Hz, three-pronged plug
Visa: Citizens of the US, EU, Australia and Japan do not need a tourist visa for entry into the UK if staying less than six months. Citizens of other countries should check with their travel agent or a visa agency for specific visa and entry requirements
Terrain: predominately mountainous. Three distinct regions from north to south: Highlands, Central Lowlands and Southern Uplands
Climate: temperate, subject to the moderating influences of the surrounding seas. Low temperatures/ heavy snowfalls common during winter in many areas, particularly in mountainous districts. Conditions are milder in the western coastal area than the east.