The number of whale and dolphin sightings in British waters in 2013 has reached a record level, according to a study by the Sea Watch Foundation charity.
So far the group’s National Whale and Dolphin Watch has had more than 630 sightings of ten different species of whale and dolphin during the annual study of the marine mammals, with more expected before the end of August.
The figure beats the previous record of 596 sightings in 2007, making 2013 the best year to see dolphins and whales since the watch first began 12 years ago.
Those taking part in the watch reported pods of around 250 common dolphins, groups of killer whales near the Shetland Islands and a humpback whale spotted off the coast of Cresswell.
Sea Watch Sightings Officer Danielle Gibas said: “There was a real excitement around this year's watch. Good weather in most areas of the country for much of the time certainly helped.
“Once we have all the records in we will be able to build one of the most detailed maps yet of the species, distribution and numbers of cetaceans around the UK coast.”
In total, 29 species of dolphins, whales and porpoises have been recorded in UK and Irish waters, 12 of these during a National Whale and Dolphin Watch.
Danielle adds: “It is important to understand trends of distribution and their triggers, which could be the result of changes in fish or other food stocks; or environmental drivers such as climate change, human activity in construction, drilling boat traffic or pollution.”