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:

  • Sun

    Ship a'Hoy

    4:15 pmJohn O'Groats to Hoy ferry

    This is your only opportunity to sail directly to the Orkney Isle of Hoy from the Scottish mainland on the passenger ferry from John O’Groats. Join the countryside rangers either walking out to the famous ‘Old Man’ sea stack or enjoy a slightly more strenuous guided walk through the Glens of Kinnaird en route to Rackwick Bay.

    Plenty of wildlife and stunning views on Hoy – hopefully whales or dolphins may be seen during the ferry crossing.

    Limited numbers. Booking and pre-payment to secure places by 14th May essential (credit/debit card booking available).

    £46 per person, covers ferry and bus ticket plus ranger event charge.

    Further info: please contact Paul Castle on 01847 821531 or paul.castle@highland.gov.uk

    Booking:John O’Groats Ferry on 01955 611535 (quote ranger trip when booking).


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

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