Shetland Community Wildlife Group are looking for volunteers to help spot Harbour Porpoise

The Shetland Community Wildlife Group, an initiative created by the Marine Spatial Planning section at Shetland UHI with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, have recently launched a Shetland Harbour Porpoise survey.

The Shetland Community Wildlife Group (SCWG) was established to enable local people to get involved in nature, learn new skills, speak to like-minded people and collect meaningful scientific data. Volunteers have been taking part in surveys and monitoring from bumblebees and butterflies to marine invasive non-native species.

This latest project, in collaboration with Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Shorewatch and NatureScot, will encourage volunteers to collect data on porpoise sightings in three survey sites known for attracting large aggregations of porpoise: South Nesting Bay, Mousa Sound and Quendale Bay.

Harbour porpoise are regularly spotted in Shetland waters in small groups and sometimes in large aggregations that are not seen in many other areas in the UK. However, porpoises are very under recorded and very little is known about these aggregations and any seasonal variations in the areas the porpoise are using.

Kate Allan, SCWG Coordinator at Shetland UHI said “The Shetland Porpoise survey along with WDC Shorewatch data and any reported one-off sightings will go a long way to helping fill some of the data gaps we currently have on porpoise numbers around the isles and will increase our understanding of where large groups congregate, at what time of year and for what purpose”

The data will be used locally to update the Shetland Islands Regional Marine Plan, a policy framework to assist in decision making and manage human activity in the marine environment and by the other organisations involved to better understand the movements and behaviour of this species.

Karen Hall of NatureScot added “We know that signs of mating have been observed in these large aggregations and understanding when, where and why they form these large groups will aid in our understanding of this species.  Porpoise, like other cetaceans are a protected species so understanding their lifestyle and areas that are important to them is crucial when developing conservation measures.’ 

If you would be interested in getting involved in porpoise monitoring, please get in touch with Kate at or visit You can also find us on Facebook, just search ‘Shetland Community Wildlife’

We would also welcome any one-off sightings of harbour porpoise from anywhere in Shetland. Submit your record (date, number of individuals, location) to