A non-commercial site to collect and disseminate information on the natural history of Shetland.

contact us

About these pages

Nature in Shetland

Recording nature in Shetland since 1996

Winner of a Shetland Environment Award 2004


Shetland Sea Mammal Group



Latest Sea Mammal Sightings and Photos

Send  in your news - these records will be used in the compilation of the Shetland Sea Mammal Report

Thursday 18th November 2004

A Minke Whale was in Colgrave Sound.

Tuesday 16th November 2004

A Minke Whale was in Bressay Sound in the south mouth of Lerwick harbour.

Wednesday 29th September 2004

There are about 40 Harbour Porpoises and a Minke Whale in South Nesting Bay.

A whale was also seen in Scalloway harbour, possibly a Sei Whale, but this would be exceptional so close inshore.

Friday 10th September 2004

There were 2 large Minke Whales close in off the north side of Out Skerries.

Tuesday 7th September 2004

A minimum of 6 Risso's Dolphins were off Bard Head, Bressay, shoaling fish from about 1.50pm. They were present for at least one hour when they kept moving east and then returning back inshore.

Thursday 26th August 2004

A Minke Whale was seen several times off Mousa.

Tuesday 24th August 2004

Tom Thomason reports 40 probable White-sided Dolphins in Colgrave Sound.

Sunday 15th August 2004

A Minke Whale was off Mousa and another was possibly seen off Skeld.

Saturday 14th August 2004

A Minke Whale was in Dury Voe and the White-sided Dolphins were back in Vassa Voe.

Tuesday 10th August 2004

Two bits of a very old whale carcass have washed ashore at Haroldswick.

Friday 6th August 2004

There were at least 18 White-sided Dolphins in Vassa Voe, Nesting, from mid-afternoon until well into evening. They were in two groups at first, with 6 close in, more or less opposite the school and at least another 12 almost as far out as the point of Railsbrough. The further out group appeared to be vigorously herding and feeding on fish while those further in were just circling. Eventually the main group swam in to join the near shore group and continued vigorously swimming and breaching.

White-sided Dolphins at Vassa Voe - videograbs by Austin Taylor

There is also a brief piece of video (1MB) here: If you have problems, go to the SSMG homepage ( and then download the file by right clicking on the link (NEW! Atlantic White-Dolphins, Vassa Voe, 6 August 2004 (1MB) - Windows media video NEW!) and then choose "save link to disk" (or similar, depending on your browser).

A pod of 7 Killer Whales passed through Bluemull Sound this afternoon.

Thursday 5th August 2004

There are still 2 Minke Whales feeding off Mousa with at least 10 Harbour Porpoises also there.

At least 13 Harbour Porpoises are off Sumburgh Head.

Wednesday 4th August 2004

There were 2 Minke Whales feeding off East Ham, Mousa between 16:20 and 16:.50 at least with at least 12 Harbour Porpoises also there.

A belated report of 6 Killer Whales at Baltasound (presumably off Balta rather than in the voe).

Tuesday 3rd August 2004

Two Killer Whales were seen from the Fair Isle ferry just off Sumburgh Head.

Sunday 1st August 2004

A pod of 4-5 Killer Whales, including one male, was in Yell Sound at mid-day. Disturbed by two successive ferries, they swam back out of the sound towards Ollaberry, disappearing round the point of the ness at Toft.

Thursday 29th July 2004

A Bottlenose Dolphin has been reported from Olnafirth; there are no confirmed Shetland records.

Monday 26th July 2004

There are 5 Harbour Porpoises in Mousa Sound.

Wednesday 14th July 2004

A Harbour Porpoises was in Brei Wick, Lerwick.

Thursday 8th July 2004

There were 3 Harbour Porpoises off Sand of Sand, Fetlar.

Tuesday 5th July 2004

A Minke Whale and a Harbour Porpoise were seen off Sumburgh Head.

Tuesday 29th June 2004

There were 2 Minke Whales, around 10 Harbour Porpoise and 5 White-sided Dolphins off Sumburgh Head.

Saturday 26th June 2004

A pod of 5 Killer Whales, including one bull, moved south off Hermaness in the mid-afternoon.

Monday 7th June 2004

There were at least 3 Harbour Porpoises in the Voe of Cullingsburgh, Bressay, yesterday at approx. 1.30pm, and one in the same place this morning at 8 am.

Thursday 3rd June 2004

At least 5 Killer Whales (including 2 youngsters and a bull) were off Sumburgh Head from around 10 am - 11 ish. Approached from the north, swam down the east of the head around head then into the bay between the lighthouse and Horse island before swimming south then east.

Wednesday 2nd June 2004

Nicky Davies saw 4 Harbour Porpoises in Noss Sound at about 9:30 pm and, briefly at about 9:55 pm, 3 Killer Whales in Voe of Cullingsburgh, Bressay, possibly heading east.

A large whale, believed to be Sei Whale, surfaced twice near the Hamnavoe, Burra Light.

Wednesday 26th May 2004

A single White-sided Dolphin was in Brei Wick, Lerwick, in the early evening and there were 3 Harbour Porpoises in Burra Firth, Unst.

Tuesday 25th May 2004

A Harbour Porpoise was off the Bressay lighthouse.

Monday 24th May 2004

A pod of 6 Killer Whales were seen in the late afternoon, moving south off the Bard of Bressay.

Saturday 8th May 2004

A single Atlantic White-sided Dolphin was observed swimming close to shore at the head of Garths Voe in Sullom Voe all day (it had also been seen the previous day) but at about 3:15pm it stranded. After examination by a vet it was put down and later taken for post mortem analysis.

Thursday 29th April 2004

There were 6 Killer Whales, including one bull, at the mouth of Weisdale Voe.

Wednesday 14th April 2004

'Some' Killer Whales were reported in Brei Wick, Lerwick today.

Friday 19th March 2004

A group of 6 Risso's Dolphins moved through Bluemull Sound during the day.

Wednesday 18th February 2004

There are 4 Harbour Porpoises in Burra Firth.

Thursday 16th October 2003

At least 100 White-sided Dolphins and about 6 White-beaked Dolphins were in Bluemull Sound in the evening.

Friday 3rd October 2003

Hugh Sim reported about 50 dolphins, presumably White-sided Dolphins in these numbers, heading south in Brei Wick, Lerwick.

Tuesday 23rd September 2003

Sandy Smith saw at least 6 Risso's Dolphins in Uyea Sound (identified from a photograph and description).

Monday 22nd September 2003

This Common Seal was photographed by Micky Maher at Haroldswick.

Saturday 20th September 2003

A Minke Whale was seen from the Out Skerries ferry.

Sunday 14th September 2003

There were 2 White-sided Dolphins at the head of Whiteness Voe.

Thursday 11th September 2003

A Basking Shark was at Belmont at about 7:00 am.

Wednesday 10th September 2003

There were 3 White-sided Dolphins at the head of Whiteness Voe.

Tuesday 9th September 2003

A pod of 15 Killer Whales was reported in the Bay of Quendale in the early morning.

Thursday 4th September 2003

A Basking Shark and 6 Risso's Dolphins were seen in Wick of Tresta, Fetlar, and another Basking Shark was in Mousa Sound.

Wednesday 3rd September 2003

The Bluemull ferry crew had a pod of twelve unidentified dolphins pass through the sound in the evening.

Monday 1st September 2003

A Basking Shark spent a couple of hours off South Ness, Foula, and there were up to 4 Harbour Porpoises there as well.

The Foula Basking Shark - photo Russell Wynn

Friday 29th August 2003

There was a group of 5 White-sided Dolphins at the head of Weisdale Voe at about 08:30.

Monday 25th August 2003

Willie Mouat saw 3-4 Minke Whales in Harold's Wick in the evening.

Saturday 16th August 2003

Willie Mouat saw at least 6 Killer Whales moving north through Bluemull Sound at about 18:30.

Tuesday 12th August 2003

Off Hermaness, there were at least 100 dolphins in the morning NW of Muckle Flugga before moving NE with the majority being White-sided Dolphins, although there were at least 1 or 2 White-beaked Dolphins.

There were also 5 Minke Whales north of Hermaness at mid-day, and one heading SW off Humla Stack there and 2 feeding off the Neap in the early afternoon. Another Minke Whale was seen briefly off Lamba Ness, Unst.

Terry and Liz Holmes saw a Basking Shark from 17:48 to 1:800 off White Hil,l Vasetter, Yell

Monday 11th August 2003

There were at least 5 Minke Whales off Lamba Ness, Unst, along with several White-beaked Dolphins and a few Harbour Porpoises, and another Minke Whale and a White-beaked Dolphin off the Keen of Hamar.

Another Minke Whale was off Sumburgh Head.

Sunday 10th August 2003

There were 7 White-beaked Dolphins off Lamba Ness, Unst at about 11:00.

Saturday 10th August 2003

A single Minke Whale was seen again in the Wick of Gruting.

Friday 8th August 2003

A Minke Whale, 3 White-beaked Dolphins and a pod of about 15 distant dolphins were off Hermaness in the morning and 9 Harbour Porpoises and 5 White-beaked Dolphins were off Lamba Ness, Unst in the afternoon.

Colin Petrie reports that several Minke Whales were seen during the Mid Yell Boating Club fishing competition with 2 feeding at north end of Hascosay, one feeding in the middle of the Wick of Gruting (north end of Fetlar),  another 2 feeding farther out in the Wick of Gruting towards the back of Haaf Gruney and 2 in Colgrave Sound off the White Hill - Aywick area. There were also small numbers of Harbour Porpoises.

Tuesday 5th August 2003

A White-beaked Dolphin was off the mouth of Haroldswick bay at 4.15pm (seen from the Keen of Hamar).

Wednesday 30th July 2003

A Minke Whale was off Lamba Ness, Unst this evening.

Saturday 26th July 2003

4 White-sided Dolphins were approx 10 miles SSE of Foula.

Thursday 24th July 2003

A Minke Whale and 4 Porpoise were between Tonga and the Neap, Hermaness between 1.40 - 1.50.

Monday 21st July 2003

A Minke Whale was to the west of Hermaness 21st July.

Monday 14th July 2003

A Minke Whale and 2 Porpoise were to the north of Hermaness around 12.30.

Saturday 12th July 2003

Jack Cavers reported a pod of 20 unidentified dolphins heading south past Fladdabister @ 5.30pm.

Thursday 10th July 2003

One, probably 2, Minke Whales were off the west side of Unst at 1.50 pm.

Tuesday 1st July 2003

Not a sea mammal - but a Basking Shark was off Hermaness most of the afternoon, drifting south from off Hermaness Hill towards the Neap.

A pod of 3 Killer Whales were sighted at 11:55 hrs off Sumburgh Head. Then a second pod of 4 was sighted between Sumburgh Head and Horse Island... then they fed behind Horse Island and Scatness for about 1 hour, before both pods headed North seperately (within 20 min. intervals). They were sighted again off Spiggie Beach at around 14:35 hrs.

Monday 30th June 2003

Seven Killer Whales (including the regular notched female) passed close to Sumburgh Head and then spent over an hour between Sumburgh and Horse Island feeding.

A Minke Whale was seen off Noss. At least 3 Harbour Porpoises were in Burra Firth.

Friday 26th June 2003

There were 7 Risso's Dolphins off Hermaness.

Thursday 25th June 2003

There were 50 White-sided Dolphins off Hermaness this morning.

Wednesday 25th June 2003

There were 4 Harbour Porpoises in Burra Firth.

Monday 23rd June 2003

There were 3 Harbour Porpoises in Burra Firth.

Sunday 15th June 2003

There were 7 Harbour Porpoises in Bluemull Sound and 7 in Burra Firth.

Thursday 12th June 2003

Five Harbour Porpoises were seen from Fetlar.

Monday 9th June 2003

There were 6 Killer Whales off the west side of Hermaness for a couple of hours this afternoon.

A Minke Whale was off Sumburgh Head.

Sunday 8th June 2003

About 12 White-sided Dolphins were off Cunnister in Basta Voe today, between 1100 and 1300 hrs, circling near one of the mussel farms before heading out towards the mouth of the voe at speed.

Saturday 7th June 2003

A Harbour Porpoise was seen close in off Sumburgh Head at about 2pm. Ian Broadbent also reported a dolphin sp. from the MV Hjaltland ferry about 8km north of Fair Isle; it was probably Bottlenose Dolphin, but there are no confirmed records of this species in Shetland waters.

Friday 6th June 2003

There were 3 Harbour Porpoises seen off the west side of Hermaness.

Thursday 5th June 2003

There were 2 Harbour Porpoises off Levenwick.

Saturday 31st May 2003

Andy Flaws had 6 Killer Whales off Grutness.

Friday 30th May 2003

A pod of about 10 Killer Whales moved south through Colgrave Sound, between Fetlar and Yell, at about 5pm.

Wednesday 28th May 2003

There were 2 Harbour Porpoises seen from the MV Dunter just north of Out Stack, north of Unst.

Wednesday 21st May 2003

A pod of 6 Killer Whales moved north past Cunningsburgh today.

Thursday 15th May 2003

Ian Hay, onboard the Northlink cargo ship, reported a Minke Whale about 1.5km south of Lerwick harbour and 5 Harbour Porpoises 8km east of Fair Isle.

The crew of the Good Shepherd saw their first Minke Whale of the year (the same one as above?) on the crossing between Lerwick and Fair Isle.

Friday 2nd May 2003

A school of 10 Risso's Dolphins moved north along the west coast of Hermaness just after 10am this morning.

Friday 18th April 2003

A school of 4 Risso's Dolphins swam through Bluemull Sound this morning.

Thursday 10th April 2003

A pod of 3 Killer Whales were seen by an angler in a boat off Skaw, Unst.

Wednesday 9th April 2003

Roger Smith of the Yell Sound ferry crews reported a Minke Whale between Bigga and Toft, in Yell Sound.

There were also 7 Harbour Porpoises seen swimming south past Lunning.

Tuesday 1st April 2003

Roger Smith of the Yell Sound ferry crews reported a pod of at least 3 Killer Whales, apparently feeding on seals, just east of Bigga, Yell Sound.

Monday 24th March 2003

J. Tulloch reported 2 Killer Whales moving north, about 1.5km east of Score Point, Bressay, this afternoon.

Tuesday 11th February 2003

A dead Sperm Whale has been found washed ashore just north of the Shore Station at Burrafirth. It is relatively fresh, at least by the standards set by previous corpses, which are usually no more than lumps of blubber.

Sunday 9th February 2003

On a very calm day, about 70 Harbour Porpoises were sighted in Yell Sound, mainly off Mioness, between Toft and Sullom Voe.

There were also 7 White-sided Dolphins north of the Burra bridge.


This site is not directly connected to any of the organisations mentioned, so comments  may not necessarily reflect the views of the organisations, clubs or societies  involved. The pages on this website remain the intellectual property of the authors. They may be freely downloaded, quoted or used for any purpose, providing acknowledgement is given to the website and/or the author/s. No liability is accepted for the accuracy of this information. Copyright of all photographs remains with the photographer.