Mull whale charity needs votes to win lottery award

Earth Watch Team 3; 2nd June - 13th June

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A whale watch charity founded in Mull is appealing for votes to help it win a National Lottery award.

Whale Track, developed by Isle of Mull-based charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, has been named as a finalist in the 2018 National Lottery Awards, the annual search for people’s favourite National Lottery-funded projects.

The project beat off competition from more than 700 organisations to reach the public voting stage.

Whale Track, which is a first-of-its-kind smartphone app that allows anyone to submit marine mammal sightings off the west coast of Scotland, is competing in the Best Environment project category.

The app actively involves people in tracking the movements of coastal species such as bottlenose dolphins and unravelling the mysteries of more elusive species such as killer whales, helping everyone become ‘citizen scientists’.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust science manager, Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, says winning a prestigious National Lottery Award and having their work showcased on national television would be an honour.

The app is free to download and uses GPS to accurately track excursions at sea and record locations of sightings. Crucially, the app works without phone signal or wifi, meaning sightings can be recorded in the most remote areas.

Whale Track now has more than 500 users with 15,000 animals recorded so far, including common dolphin super pods recorded from aircraft.

‘National Lottery funding was crucial to the development of Whale Track so we are absolutely over the moon to be in the finals of the National Lottery Awards.  Every sighting recorded helps us to better understand the movements of the marine mammals in our waters, their behaviours, and measures we can take to protect them.  If you share our love of these amazing animals, please vote for Whale Track to win Best Environment Project 2018!’ said Dr Hartny-Mills.

Liz Bonnin, wildlife presenter and patron of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, is excited to be supporting Whale Track. ‘Encouraging the public to play a very real part in the protection of their local wildlife is a very positive step towards protecting this magnificent part of the planet. Please vote for Whale Track to show your support!’ she said.

The project with the most votes gets £5,000  to spend on their project, an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and to attend a star-studded glittering awards ceremony to be broadcast on BBC One on  September 26.

To vote go to awards.  You can also follow the campaign on Twitter: hashtag #NLAwards. Voting runs until midnight on July 27.

There are seven projects competing for votes across seven categories, reflecting the main areas of National Lottery funding: arts, education, environment, health, heritage, sport and voluntary/charity.