September 25, 2021   •  
Bottlenose dolphin


Watch our two videos:

Shorewatch video How to take part in a Shorewatch

How to record your data.


Pdf downloadPlease download our information sheets on locations, sightings forms and advice for when you take part in a Shorewatch.


NewsletterKeep up-to-date with the latest news from Shorewatch with our newsletters.


The Shorewatch programme provides a set of Opticron, 7x50, Marine grade binoculars with internal compass and reticule lines at each Shorewatch site to be shared by volunteers. Every volunteer uses the same specification of binoculars to keep watches consistent between individual observers.


7 x 50 magnification

  • ‘7’ – how many times the binoculars magnify the image that you see
  • ‘50’ – diameter of the objective lens

There are advantages and disadvantages to increasing both the magnification and the objective lens size; you will see larger images at greater distances with higher magnification but they are darker and less sharp so harder to identify animals. Larger lens diameters result in a wider field of view and a brighter, clearer image but they make the binoculars heavier.  In Scotland we are often looking at grey animals, against grey sky and a grey sea! The Shorewatch programme has selected 7x50 binoculars as they provide the optimum magnification and allow in enough light to enable you to identify animals confidently.  Every pair of binoculars has a monopod to help you maintain a steady watch throughout your binocular scans.

Using internal compass and reticules
The internal compass and distance scale will help you to determine where the animals are so that we can map them and determine if there are any ‘hot spots’ within your survey area.

Bearing and reticules

Group of animals (circled) at 8 degrees and 2 reticules from sky.

How to take a bearing:

  • Locate the animals with your binoculars  
  • Hold the binoculars steady until the compass comes to a rest
  • Make note of the degrees from your position to the animals

How to take a reticule:

  • Locate the animals with your binoculars 
  • Fix one reticule on the point where the sea meets the land or sky
  • Count reticules down to the sighting
  • Record no. of reticules and which horizon you are using e.g.  from land or sky
  • You may use partial reticules i.e. 1.5

Using binoculars for sightings

For instructions on how to record the bearing and reticule distance of your sighting see our data entry page.