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Seawatch Survey

The East Grampian coast is one of the best areas in Britain to spot whales and dolphins from the land, so why not come and join the experts on the last Sunday of each month to find out more and see our local wildlife.

The Seawatches take place between 1 and 5 pm. Click here for dates and locations. Binoculars are provided so just bring warm clothes, waterproofs, stout shoes and something to sit on. You can also learn about the other great opportunities to enjoy watching our local wildlife including the boat trip from Stonehaven and Norcet Surveys to the Northern Isles with North Link ferries.

Thanks to the generous support from The Seawatch Foundation and Shell these events are free to the public.

Local Whales and Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphin

This is the most common cetacean that we see in this region and can be seen all year round. They grow to 3.5–4m in length and are a dark grey in colour on their backs with a pale underside. They have a large sickle shaped dorsal fin about half way along their back and a pronounced beak or nose. The individuals seen in this area can be up to 50% bigger than their southern relatives to enable them to cope with the cold water temperatures.

Bottlenose dolphins are often seen near the coast, particularly around harbours and in bays, although large schools can be seen offshore. They are a social animal, usually living in small groups. They are a very inquisitive and are often seen approaching boats and bow riding. They will often leap right out of the water, known as breaching.

White-beaked dolphin

This dolphin spends a lot of its time off shore but during the summer months can often be seen from our coastline.

This is a large, robust dolphin, slightly smaller than the bottlenose, growing up to about 3m (8–9.25ft) in length when fully grown. They have a short white beak (hence the name) and distinctive white markings down their sides, with a grey patch behind the dorsal fin. They are darker than the bottlenose, almost appearing black and their fins are longer and thinner. They are very fast animals and also like to bow ride boats but get bored a lot quicker than the bottlenose.

Harbour Porpoise

This is the smallest cetacean found in European waters yet is often mistaken for the bottlenose dolphin. The porpoise is about half the size, only growing to about 1.5m (4.75ft) in length and is dark grey in colour. Their dorsal fin is much smaller and triangular in shape, and they have no distinctive nose. Very little of the animal is usually seen and they never breach or bow ride. Generally all that is seen is the dorsal fin which moves forward with a rolling action, as if positioned on a wheel.

Minke Whale

Often associated with the West coast, this whale can also be seen along our coastline. Minke whales are the smallest of the Rorqual family of whales, growing to 8–10m (25–33ft) in length.

They are a dark slate grey colour, have a small triangular head, and paddle like fins, often marked with a white band. Their dorsal fin is small and situated about two-thirds along their back.

For more information on species identification please see the Seawatch Foundation website.

If you would like to discuss the Sea Watches further please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., the Partnership's Project Officer.