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.


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Sightings data entry

Filling in the sightings data sheet
If cetaceans are seen during your watch you will need to fill in the back of the data sheet (sightings data) to record information about the sighting, including species, group size, position and behaviour.
For every sighting there are two rows to fill in. In the first row circle ‘Yes’ if the sighting happened during a Shorewatch; if you are using the sheet to records a casual sighting circle ‘No’). Use the second row to record the information about the sighting.

Sightings data sheet

*for instructions on how to use the internal compass and reticule lines see the binoculars page. NB. You do not need to wait until after the Shorewatch to record sightings information. As soon as you see a group of cetaceans during your watch you will have satisfied the effort (which is to determine presence or absence) and can move your attention on to identifying the animals present and recording their behaviour and position within the survey site.

Record the following information on the cetacean sighting data sheet:

  1. Date – simple but very important
  2. Start time – this is when you first saw the animals so this could be before or after the Shorewatch start time depending on when you first sighted the animals*
  3. Bearing – using the compass at the bottom of your field of view through the Shorewatch binoculars, note down the compass bearing from you to the animal.
  4. Distance Reticules – using you binoculars line up one of the reticule lines on the horizon and count down the number of reticule lines to the location where you first sighted the animals Note: you may count partial reticules. Record which horizon you are counting from by circling land or sky
  5. Distance estimate in metres  –  make a distance estimate in metres to the animals
  6. Species - record the species of the animals and the cues used to identify them
  7. Sighting confidence – record how confident you are in your identification as a percentage. Try to make a level of identification at 100% even if you can only say that the animal was a marine mammal. You can then try to identify the animal to species, again noting the appropriate confidence level.  
  8. Group size– record the maximum number of animals seen at the surface at any one time
  9. No. calves – can you see any calves in the group? Note how many.
  10. Behaviour – record the dominant behaviour state by circling the appropriate word; active or calm and travel or stay. If the animals are traveling note which direction
  11. End time – this the last time you saw the animals in the area*

Note: circle whether you are watching in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or BST (British Summer Time; from last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

*Note: Sighting start and end times need to be when you (as the observer) saw the animals first and last. Either when the animals arrive/leave or YOU arrive or leave the area, either way it is the times you can be certain the animals were present.

Please download Flash Player to see this video.

Shorewatch training video: how to take the bearing and distance reticules to the animals using the WDC Shorewatch binoculars.