Whale watching is wonderful — when you actually get to see the majestic creatures. Paying for a loud, diesel-spewing boat tour with a scant chance of glimpsing a whale sucks and is far from being the most sustainable for the aquatic creatures.
Scotland’s new Hebridean Whale Trail, which consists of 33 sites along the west coast, is free, respectful of the animals, and provides great odds of seeing wildlife since more than a quarter of the world’s whale and dolphin species have been recorded in the area.
First opened on June 28, the trail is the brainchild of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, and its intention is to show the world that Scotland is an amazing cetacean-watching destination — and that it can be done from land.
Alison Lomax, director of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said in a press release, “Ultimately we want people to experience the thrill of watching a fin breaking the surface in the distance, and the challenge of identifying which type of whale they’ve seen, sharing that experience with others, and learning about the threats these animals face in our seas.”
To make exploring the trail easy, there is an interactive map available on the official website. When you click a section of the Hebrides archipelago, you will then be given a list and map of all the available whale-watching spots in the area. From there, you can click on each to learn about the place, as well as what you can expect to see. The trail stretches across the entire Hebridean archipelago and along Scotland’s west coast, going even as far west as the island of St. Kilda.
“Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s best places to catch sight of whales, dolphins, and porpoises from land,” said Karl Stevens, manager of the Hebridean Whale Trail. “We want people from all walks of life to visit the Whale Trail to enjoy exploring the region’s unique nature, culture, history, and to be inspired to support marine conservation.”
Along the trail, those who want to do more than just observe can volunteer in conservation activities such as joining volunteers to watch, identify, and record marine wildlife from land or the ferries that connect the sites.