Orca Watch 2018

Saturday 26th May – Saturday 2nd June 2018

Orca Watch Logo Image
Breaching killer whale by John Irvine/ Sea Watch Foundation

Killer whales (orcas) are rare in the British Isles but can be observed mainly in northern Britain, around the Hebrides and the Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland). Those from the Northern Isles seem to come from a population that ranges between Norway, Iceland and the Faroes, visiting the northernmost North Sea in the winter to feed upon herring or mackerel, and then coming closer to shore between May and August, where they have been observed chasing seals.

This year’s Orca Watch is planned for late May to coincide with the annual passage of killer whales observed in the Pentland Firth as well as to coincide with school holidays to enable as many people to join us as possible! The aim of Orca Watch is to collect vital data on this and other cetacean species in the area, whilst informing the public about these enigmatic animals just off their shores!

Originally instigated by Sea Watch Regional Coordinator Colin Bird, the event is now in its seventh year and is growing in popularity. We are really pleased about this and welcome collaboration from other organisations to ensure that this event reaches as many people as possible!

  • For the public

    We’re currently in the process of planning Orca Watch activities and new events will be listed below as soon as we have them.

    Whilst you could certainly plan your own holiday around the event, we are only inviting you to join in with our surveys, training course and other events and we cannot provide accommodation or travel.

    2013 OrcaKiller whales seen during Orca Watch. Photo by Colin Bird/ Sea Watch Foundation

    Event Information:

    • Sat

      Observer Training

      Drop in any time from 11am until 2pmDuncansby Head Grid Ref: ND 405 733

      Drop in session with Sea Watch Foundation. Come and learn how to survey for cetaceans and how to fill in the survey forms. Meet new people and enjoy the stunning scenery.

      Duncansby Head is 2 miles from John O Groats (where you will find the nearest toilet) and is the most North Easterly tip of Mainland UK. The site is very exposed and you will need to be warmly dressed and ready for the weather. The nearest toilet facilities are at John O’ Groats.

  • For Organisations

  • If your organisation would like to take part in Orca Watch, then please contact Anna Jemmett, a Sea Watch volunteer who is coordinating the event, on annajem@hotmail.co.uk. We would welcome public awareness events as well as extra help with the watches, or please let us know if you have any other ideas too!

    x 13-5-15Killer whale in the Pentland Firth. Photo by Colin Bird/ Sea Watch Foundation

Join in on social media #SWFOrcaWatch  


Thank you for getting involved!


The Team at Sea Watch Foundation