gillnumil ® 08-Sep-2019 10:26

Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises: Naturally Scottish


Year: 2009
Language: english
Author: Katie Gillham and John Baxter
Genre: Other
Publisher: Scottish Natural Heritage
ISBN: 978-1-85397-583-7
Format: PDF
Quality: eBook
Pages count: 58
Description: When we think about the special wildlife of Scotland, it’s easy to forget about the creatures that live offshore around our coasts. But the species inhabiting the seas are just as much part of Scotland’s wildlife as those on land. Cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises –are rarely seen, and poorly understood, but they are amongst the most exciting and charismatic of all the species that are ‘naturally Scottish’.
It may surprise you to learn just how rich our seas are in cetaceans. Nearly one-quarter of the world’s species of cetaceans are found in Scottish coastal waters. Any vessel sailing through our waters is likely to encounter these creatures regularly. Even though they may not be visible, the clicks and whistles made by porpoises and dolphins will be revealed by a hydrophone trailed behind the vessel, as the animals use echolocation to investigate their environment. To catch momentary glimpses of whales or, with good luck, to have the more prolonged company of dolphins riding the bows of a ship, is to have a brief insight into another world. Cetaceans have social structures as complex as any we know in the animal kingdom, apart from man. But these glimpses only serve to reinforce how difficult it is for us to understand what effect our presence has on these animals and why we must be cautious in our approach to their conservation.
In many ways, cetaceans are a symbol of the state of our seas. They require a ‘healthy ecosystem’ to support them, and are vulnerable to many man-made environmental pressures, such as chemical pollution and entanglement in fishing gear. But new issues are being presented with every new industrial and recreational development in the oceans. These include different chemicals, the rise in sound pollution, which has the potential to ‘blind’ these animals with high levels of background noise or with acute, high-intensity sounds, and the increasing threat of injury or death through collision with wave and tidal power generation installations. Just because we no longer actively hunt cetaceans in Scotland does not mean that we no longer have a significant effect on their populations.
The Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth is likely to be just the start of our efforts to provide appropriate protection for cetaceans. Increased awareness, knowledge and appreciation of cetaceans at all levels of our society is the most effective route to conservation.
Additional info: Further booklets in this series are available. To order these and other publications visit: snh.org.uk/pubs.

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