Weather and more specifically visibility and seastate will impact your ability to spot animals. Heavy rain, high wind, mist, fog and bright sunshine (glare) will all make harder to see what is on the surface of the water. We want to keep effort consistent. If it’s raining so much that you can’t see through your binoculars, your effort won’t be the same as on clear days. Equally, if the wind is moving you around, it will be hard to keep your binocular scans even.
What’s a perfect day? Calm, bright but overcast.
You are in charge - Be confident that sightings means no cetaceans!
Before you begin your 10-minute Shorewatch it is important to assess the environmental conditions. Scan the area thoroughly with your eyes for one minute to familiarise yourself with the site. (Even at a regular site, conduct this initial scan to adjust to the conditions on the day and get your eyes ready to perform a Shorewatch). Make note of the following environmental conditions and record your final assessment before the watch begins.
We do not record Swell on the Shorewatch data sheet. Swell can impact your ability to see cetaceans but it can be very hard to judge accurately. Swell is caused by storms thousands of miles away from the shore. This distance allows the waves comprising the swells to become more stable, clean, and free of chop as they travel toward the coast. The sea will appear ‘bigger’, ‘higher’ or ‘swollen’ as the name suggests. If the swell is high enough that you think it might be impacting your watch – e.g., if you would not be confident recording that there are no cetaceans in the area, DO NOT carry out a Shorewatch.