A record number of whale, dolphin and porpoise species have been spotted in UK waters in the past year, according to a new study.
Results also showed Scotland’s seas host the greatest diversity of cetaceans, with seven species reported in the Outer Hebrides alone.
Nearly 40 per cent of all sightings were reported in Scottish waters.
The national survey, carried out last year, identified 13 different cetacean species around Britain and Northern Ireland – up from the previous record of 11.
The total number of animals recorded in 2015 was 4,480, down by a fifth compared to the previous year.
Experts at Sea Watch Foundation, which organised the study, believe poor weather may have hindered the count.
However, sharp-eyed volunteers added the first-ever record of a beluga whale, which was seen off the north coast of Northern Ireland.
Harbour porpoises were the most commonly seen species throughout the UK, making up nearly 60 per cent of sightings.
Bottlenose dolphins were the second most common, making up around 12 per cent of the total.
The most frequently reported whale was the minke, which accounted for more than 7 per cent of all sightings.
SWF sightings officer Kathy James said: “These figures speak for themselves, but Scotland really is a fantastic place to watch for whales and dolphins.”