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!

What’s on?!

This year, whilst our main base will be Dunscansby Head, we’re looking for your help to expand the data collection to other sites in North Scotland, Orkney and Shetland. We’re hoping this will be a great way for locals to get involved on their own patch as well as giving you the flexibility to add to the event whenever suits you! Organised watches feature on the event list below, but if you’d like to run a watch of your own at a recommended watch site please click here.

Event Information:

  • Sat

    Orca Watch

    Duncansby Head

    Join Orca Watch founder, Colin Bird, as he watches for orcas! You can come along for as little or as long as you like, but if you think you can offer upwards of an hour please drop us a line so we can get organised! Please dress sensibly for changeable weather and bring the food and drink you may require for the length of your watch. Please note that the nearest toilet facilities are three miles away in John O’Groats.

    Download a watch form here.

    For further advice or to let us know you’d like to attend, please contact Anna.


    Every day of the week we will be at Duncansby Head surveying for cetaceans, we would welcome volunteers to join us and also for watches to take place outside of these hours. The times of our set watches are:

    Saturday 20th May 11am until 5pm

    Sunday 21st May 1pm until 7pm

    Monday 22nd May 1pm until 7pm

    Tuesday 23rd May 9am until 5pm

    Wednesday 24th May 10am until 6pm

    Thursday 25th May 10am until 6pm

    Friday 26th May 9am until 5pm

    Saturday 27th May 10am until 6pm

    Sunday 28th May 11am until 5pm.

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

 If you’d like to be kept in the loop with plans for Orca Watch this year, then please contact Anna Jemmett, a Sea Watch volunteer who is coordinating the event, on annajem@hotmail.co.uk

Join in on social media #SWFOrcaWatch 

Thank you for getting involved! The Team at Sea Watch Foundation

This slideshow requires JavaScript.