The UK just launched its first whale and dolphin-spotting trail

The UK now has its first whale and dolphin trail, a network of sites on Scotland's west coast that offers opportunities for spotting marine mammals.

Travel News - Bottlenose dolphins
Bottlenose dolphins taken at Chanonry point in Scotland from land. Image by Amanda Fletcher/Getty

Sustainable marine tourism has just been given a boost in Scotland with the launch of the Hebridean Whale Trail. Developed by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, the network of trails will put Scotland's west coast on the map as a world-class destination for spotting dolphins, whales and porpoise from land, as well as championing the conservation of the Hebrides' marine wildlife and environment.

The trail features 33 sites across the Hebridean archipelago and along Scotland's west coast, from the Clyde to Cape Wrath in the north and as far west as St Kilda. While sightings can't be guaranteed, there's usually a good chance to see something special. More than a quarter of the world's whale and dolphin species have been recorded in the region. Even if you miss out on whales or dolphins, you might just get the chance to spot other wildlife teeming in the Hebridean seas such as basking sharks and seals.

Travel News - GettyImages-578316208
Seals can be spotted along the trail. Image by Ashley Cooper / Getty Images

You can also get involved in marine conservation activities such as joining volunteers to watch, identifying and recording marine wildlife from land or by ferry and popping into visitor centres along the trail to learn more about the history, nature and culture of the trail's unique communities.

"Scotland's west coast is one of Europe's best places to catch sight of whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and you may see bottlenose and common dolphins, harbour porpoise, minke whales and killer whales," said Karl Stevens, Hebridean Whale Trail's manager. "We want people from all walks of life to visit the Hebridean Whale Trail to enjoy exploring the region's unique nature, culture and history, and to be inspired to support marine conservation."

Travel News - Common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in bay, Chanonry Point, Moray Firth, Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom
Common bottlenose dolphin in bay, Chanonry Point, Scotland Image by Christop Ruisz/Getty

A website and map have been created especially for the new Hebridean Whale Trail. You can start exploring here.