Despite a flow of new information in recent years, we still know surprisingly little about the majority of cetacean species inhabiting our oceans, rivers and seas. These are amongst the most difficult animals to study, spending much of their lives underwater, often living in remote areas, and typically showing very little of themselves when they rise to the surface to breathe.

In spite of these difficulties, however, it is certainly an exciting time to be involved in cetacean research. The scientific community has learnt just enough to begin asking the right questions, and we now understand much about the intricacies of the natural behaviour, ecology, social organisation and many other aspects of the daily lives of these fascinating creatures in the wild.

Current studies by CRRU principally focus on the coastal cetacean species - namely the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and the minke whale - frequenting the inshore waters of the outer Moray Firth. Since 1997, researchers, volunteers and students have assisted the group in long-term monitoring studies of these animals, vital to our current understanding and knowledge of their distribution, habitat preferences and ecology in these waters.

In co-operation with universities, research institutions and international environmental agencies, ongoing studies continue to provide fundamental scientific data for the adoption of long-term management measures and conservation strategies for the protection of our UK coastal cetacean populations.

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