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

      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. The times of these watches are:


      Saturday 21st May 8am until 2pm

      Sunday 22nd May 8.30am until 2.30pm

      Monday 23rd May 9am until 3pm

      Tuesday 24th May 9.30am until 3.30pm

      Wednesday 25th May 10am until 4pm

      Thursday 26th May 11am until 5pm

      Friday 27th May 11.30am until 5.30pm

      Saturday 28th May 12pm until 7pm


  • 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