When you sign up to use the Whale Track portal you will be asked to accept these Terms and Conditions. You must accept the Terms and Conditions to be able to record and contribute data to this project. This page explains what data we will collect, how it will be used and who will have access to it.

What information will be collected about me?

For you to submit your sightings records of whales, dolphins, porpoises and sharks on the west coast of Scotland we will need to collect some basic details about you.

To be able to contribute data to this project you will need to setup an account or login using your Facebook or Gmail account. You will be asked to create a username and provide your name and email address. Your name and email address will not be displayed anywhere on the site and these details will not be shared with anyone else, other than in the ways described within this privacy policy, if we are required by law to do so, or we have obtained your permission to so.

Account validation and contacting you

Natural Apptitude will use your email address to validate your account and to respond to password reset requests. The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust may when necessary email you for more information about your sighting and to ask if you would be willing to supply photographs, where you indicated you took them. We may also occasionally contact you with important or relevant information about the project, which you will be able to unsubscribe from at any time.

How will my data be stored?

The data you submit through the Whale Track app will be stored in a secure online database called Coreo, which is hosted and managed by the project developer Natural Apptitude. Only the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and Natural Apptitude Ltd will be able to access the data you submit through Coreo to verify your sightings and to ensure Whale Track is working correctly. In order for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust scientists to analyse your data, a local copy will also be stored in their database at their office in Tobermory, Isle of Mull. Your records will be stored indefinitely and will be used to help us better understand and conserve the local marine wildlife. We’d like you to contribute to our research and submit as much data as you can, however should you wish to withdraw your data for any reason, please contact us at whaletrack@hwdt.org.

What other data will the app Whale Track collect?

Key information about your sighting (location, date, time, species, number of animals and identification confidence rating) will feed into the website (www.hwdt.org/sightings) and will
displayed on a map as well as in table. Your username will be displayed against your sightings to acknowledge you as the contributor. Please make sure you choose a suitable username if you wish to submit sightings anonymously.

When reporting a sighting through the Whale Track web portal, you will be asked to provide information about where you were watching from, what the environmental conditions were like, as well as what wildlife you saw. The location at which you saw the animals is really important to help us understand the distribution and occurrence of marine wildlife in this area.

How will my data be used?

The data collected will be used to improve our understanding of marine megafauna found off the west coast of Scotland and to inform policies to safeguard these species.

If you have reported a distressed or deceased animal your name and email address will be forwarded along with the sighting report to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), who rescue marine animals in distress around the UK, or the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), who collate data from all stranded marine animals around Scotland. They may contact you for more information about the event as well as the sightings report so that they can respond quickly to rescue the animal or determine the cause of death.

Some of the data you collect will be shared with the National Biodiversity Network (NBN), who manage UK biodiversity records. The records shared will consist of your name, location, the species you reported and the date you submitted the record. These records will be available to other organisations, such as charities or government bodies with an interest in biodiversity or conservation. Members of the general public also have access to these records, although their access rights will be restricted, so your name will be concealed and your location limited to a resolution of 1km squares.

Some of the sightings data will also be shared with other carefully selected data partners which includes other charities (i.e. Sea Watch Foundation), research organisations (i.e. St Andrews University Sea Mammal Research Unit) or government funded bodies (i.e. SNH). We will not share your personal information (name and email address) with these organisation and will only ever provide your username where an acknowledgement to the data recorder is required.

Sharing records with the NBN and our selected data partners is important, because it will help build a long-term picture of UK cetacean populations and distributions, which is used by scientists and government bodies to inform conservation policies.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust will analyse the data submitted through Whale Track to monitor marine wildlife off the west coast of Scotland, identify threats, inform policy decisions and to educate people about the diverse wildlife we have on the west coast. The findings will be presented in many different outputs, which includes but is not limited to; scientific journals, HWDT Marine Mammal Atlas, reports, sightings updates, press releases, blog posts, magazine articles and social media posts.

Health and Safety

Be aware that the ocean can be hazardous so please ensure that you follow all sensible precautions. Please do not put yourself, others or the animals at risk in order to get close to collect data or photographs. The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and Natural Apptitude Ltd accept no responsibility for injury caused to individuals, or damage caused to property, owing to the use of the Whale Track smartphone application or web portal.

Responsible Wildlife Watching

When watching marine wildlife at sea or from the shore around Scotland please ensure that you follow the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code (SMWWC). The code provides guidance for encounters with marine wildlife, which minimises disturbance and encourages safe and sustainable wildlife watching. All marine wildlife should be approached slowly and cautiously, and be observed from a suitable distance. You can download the full code, which includes the best practise guidelines for watching all marine wildlife here: www.snh.gov.uk/marinecode.

The WiSe (Wildlife Safe) scheme provides training and accreditation to marine users on how to responsibly watch wildlife and minimise any disturbance. HWDT are partners of the scheme and deliver WiSe accredited training courses on the west coast of Scotland. Please get in touch if you are interested in attending our next course.

Thank you for reading our Terms and Conditions, we hope you enjoy using Whale Track.