Whale Detectives make strong case for award

Published Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 in Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme news

Whale Detective taking notes for stranding whale case
Pictured: SMASS volunteer Rebecca Hewitt investigates a stranded Harbour porpoise at the beach at Nigg in the Highlands.

The team at the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) will tomorrow learn whether their ‘Whale Detectives’ initiative is among the winners at this year’s Nature of Scotland awards.

Part of Scotland’s Rural College and funded by Marine Scotland, SMASS is on a five-strong shortlist in the Marine Conservation category, which also includes the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Research Programme and Seasearch in Scotland.

Led by Dr Andrew Brownlow, the Inverness-based team has been investigating stranding events for 25 years.

To help them cover Scotland’s 10,000 miles of coastline, SMASS developed a unique training scheme for members of the public to become stranding volunteers, or ‘Whale Detectives’. Volunteers learn how to collect standardised measurements and samples which add to the number and geographical range of data collected by SMASS pathologists.

Since 2014, more than 180 people from all around Scotland have been trained to safely and accurately take samples and collect essential data.

Dr Brownlow said: “Quite simply, without our Whale Detectives, we wouldn’t be able to do our job nearly as well. These dedicated volunteers are willing to go out in all weathers and be our eyes and ears on the ground – or the beach. Thanks to them, Scotland now has one of the most comprehensive marine stranding investigation schemes in the world.”

Organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland, the Nature of Scotland Awards celebrate the success of those who work hard to protect and enrich the country’s natural environment.

The 2017 awards ceremony will be held in the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh, on Thursday 23 November.

To see the full list of categories and nominees, click here.

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