We are delighted to announce that we have a new batch of local land-based surveyors, marking the start of the second year of our successful project ‘The Development of a Network of Local Marine Mammal Surveyors’ funded by the Manx Lottery Trust. Over the past two weekends, we have trained up a total of 21 eager new surveyors. The team is made up of people of all ages, professions and walks of life, with one thing in common: a love for Manx marine life.

The first part of the workshop focussed on the identification of our local cetacean species and how to recognise them based on their physical and behavioural characteristics. We looked at distribution patterns; when and where to expect to see each species at particular times of the year. The session ended with a ‘test your skills’ video session.

After an hour of species ID, we were treated to refreshments including homemade scones, tea and coffee, courtesy of our wonderful secretary Karen and her husband Cedric – themselves, first getting involved with the charity as land-based surveyors in 2016.

The second part of the workshop focused on how to conduct a land-based survey: form filling, using a compass to measure distance and bearing and how to interpret cetacean behaviour. After this, we moved on to a discussion about survey locations and how to get the forms back to us. Trained surveyors have all been added to a private facebook group and email list, allowing everyone to network and organise survey meet-ups. Surveyors are encouraged to get to know one another and meet like-minded people. Once the new observers have been out with the MWDW team to conduct live surveys and gain experience, they are encouraged to go off and conduct their own surveys at any of our dedicated watching sites around the island.

As manager of the project, I would like to thank my colleagues Tom and Bryony for their support, Karen and Cedric for the refreshments, our dedicated land-based surveyors from last year (Mike, Sue, Bill and Carol) for attending the Port St Mary workshop and offering their input and stories, and to Mike for taking photographs of the session. Thank you to the Manx Lottery Trust for funding the project. Finally, a thank you to all attendees – I hope you thoroughly enjoy your time looking out for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks, and I hope to see you soon out and about.

Jen Adams, Outreach and Education Manager