Breaking News – Orca Watch 2021

Please note that the tables below are for breaking news and so may not provide complete information.

Some of the sightings may be unverified and will only be logged into the database and appear in the final tables once officially submitted to our sightings team with all the relevant details after validation.

The full list of validated sightings can be viewed on this page.

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
May 28 21:20 Hoxa Head,
Orkney
Orca 5 Christina Worth,
Robert Foubister
The 19s pod including Mousa, whilst Hulk & Nott were seen earlier
May 28 Staxigoe & Duncansby Head, Caithness Orca 5 John Bray & Steve Truluck Moved through Sinclair’s Bay past Duncansby Head; apparent seal kill near The Stacks
May 28 11:30 Walls,
Shetland
Minke whale 1 Mick Reynolds
May 28 13:00 Muckle Flugga,
Unst, Shetland
Orca 3+ Shetland Orca Sightings seen from charter fishing boat (poss. 169s)
May 28 15:20 Fetlar,
Shetland
Risso’s
dolphin
10 Tom Allen
May 28 17:10 Quendale,
Shetland
Harbour porpoise 6 Brian Gray

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
May 29 7:30 Bard Of Bressay, Shetland Minke whale 1 Phil Harris Seen by tour boat
May 29 8:00-9:30 Levenwick Cliffs, Shetland Harbour porpoise multiple groups Karen Hall
May 29 8:15 NE Out Skerries, Shetland Risso’s dolphin 8 Kris Wilson
May 29 8:50 Mio Ness,
Out Skerries, Shetland
Orca 5 Kris Wilson 169s pod, including a young calf. Last seen off Caithness by Karen Munro & Steve Truluck on 9 May, and in Shetland on 8 June 2020. Went round Out Skerries
May 29 10:25 Bluemull Sound, Shetland Harbour porpoise 1 Melvyn Heath see from ferry
May 29 10:45 Mousa Sound, Shetland Harbour porpoise 5 Shetland Orca Sightings
May 29 13:00 Dore Holm, Shetland Risso’s dolphin 10+ Nick McCaffrey Seen from kayaks – small calves present
May 29 13:05 Grif Skerry, East of Whalsay, Shetland Orca 5 Philip Hack / Ryan Leith 169s pod picked up by boat – last seen about 1410
May 29 14:30 Sumburgh Head, Shetland Risso’s dolphin 6 Karen Hall Seen during my effort watch
May 29 14:30 Burwick, Orkney Harbour porpoise 3 OMMRI
May 29 18:30 Yesnaby, Orkney Minke whale OMMRI Observed lunge feeding
May 29 Vidlin Voe, Shetland Harbour porpoise 4 Mathew Irving

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
May 30 09:40 Strathy Point, Sutherland Minke whale 1 Dan Brown / Wild Discovery
May 30 11:46 Strathy Point, Sutherland Minke whale 2-3 Dan Brown / Wild Discovery Foraging around headland
May 30 11:49 Strathy Point, Sutherland Risso’s dolphin 5+ Dan Brown / Wild Discovery
May 30 17:20-17:25 Burghead, Moray Bottlenose dolphin 4 Andy Lawson Heading W
May 30 20:00 Strathy Point, Sutherland Bottlenose dolphin 5-6 Alexandra Kniese Heading W
May 30 20:00 Spey Bay, Moray Bottlenose dolphin 2-3 Steve Adamson Heading W
May 30 18:00 Strathy Point, Sutherland Harbour porpoise 1 Dan Brown / Wild Discovery 100 m offshore
May 30 11:30 Mousa Sound, Shetland Harbour porpoise 1 Gary Buchan
May 30 14:30 Hildasay, Shetland Minke whale 1 Chris Horrix Seen from boat
May 30 17:15 Scapa Bay, Orkney Basking shark 1 Angus Gragg 100 m offshore
May 30 20:25 Hoxa Head, Orkney Harbour porpoise 1 OMMRI heading north past Hoxa Head

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
May 31 08:15 West Kirbest, Westray Risso’s dolphin 5 Steve Dudley Heading east
May 31 10:45 Cullivoe, Yell, Shetland Orca 6-8 Michael Rimmell &
Paul Harvey
#12s pod – normally a group of 5 but often other animals present. Last seen in Orkney on 7 May 2021. They are one of the Scottish – Icelandic pods
May 31 12:30 Marwick
Head, West Mainland,
Orkney
Common dolphin 3 OMMRI heading north
May 31 15:30 Scapa Pier, Mainland Orkney Risso’s dolphin 2+ OMMRI headed south towards Hoxa Head at 16:45
May 31 08:55 Burghead, Moray Bottlenose dolphin 3 Andy Lawson breaching, heading W
May 31 13:03 Wick of Gossabrough, Yell, Shetland Orca 6 Tom Allen see 10:45; made a kill
May 31 15:15 Collafirth, Shetland Orca 6 Hugh Harrop Moving fast, lots of time under water
May 31 18:30 North Roe, Shetland Orca 6 Hugh Harrop
May 31 Duncansby Head, Caithness Grey seal 3 Margaret Mullaney

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
June 1 14:25 John O’Groats, Caithness Risso’s dolphin 1 Joy Marshall milling around 200m east of JOG harbour; seen from the John O’Groats ferry
June 1 15:45 John O’Groats, Caithness Risso’s dolphin 1 Lesley
Hawkins
same individual spotted at 14:25; from the ferry
June 1 16:04 John O’Groats, Caithness Risso’s dolphin 1 Lucy Baldwin same individual spotted at 14:25; from the ferry
June 1 18:06 John O’Groats, Caithness Risso’s dolphin 1 Lucy Baldwin same individual reported at 14:25;from the wildlife cruises
June 1 17:34 Burwick, Orkney Grey seal 15 Lucy Baldwin onboard the wildlife cruise
June 1 Kingston, Moray Bottlenose dolphin 7 Steve
Adamson
from land 300 m out; app data
June 1 19:20 Duncansby Head, Caithness Fin whale (probable) 1 Steve Truluck juvenile due to size; dorsal fin closest to fin whale
June 1 12:43 Strathy Point, Sutherland Minke whale Jo Scaife
& Tim Hawes
seen close to shore then heading out to sea
June 1 16:00 Skerries Bistro, South Ronaldsay Haebour porpoise 1 OMMRI 1.5 miles out heading west

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
June 2 13:15 Sumburgh
Head, Shetland
Orca 5 Hannah Thompson Saw 1 bull, 1 female, 2 calves and possibly one other. Later identified as the #169s pod by Hugh & Karen M
June 2 14:16 Sumburgh
Head, Shetland
Orca 5+ Karen Hall/Hugh Harrop fog and sea state are not optimal
June 2 14:36 Lady’s Holm, Scatness, Shetland Harbour porpoise 2 Karen Hall Looking for orca but spotted 2 in the swell
June 2 21:15 Bigton,
Shetland
Orca 5 Martina
Smith
Quite far off, spy hopping – assumed to be #169s pod
June 2 22:15 Muckle Flugga, Unst, Shetland Orca 5-6 Robbie
Brookes
Perhaps #12s?
June 2 22:31 Maywick, Shetland Orca 5 Susan
Melville
Again quite far off moving north – assumed to be #169s
June 2 21:00 Earl’s Bu, Orphir Basking shark 1 OMMRI seen between Toyness and Houton mid-afternoon also

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
June 3 07:58 Mossbank, Shetland Harbour porpoise 2 Helen Perry
June 3 10:47 John O’Groats, Caithness Dolphin sp. 2 Lesley
Hawkins
1,250 m away, 50 bearing
June 3 21:40 South of Lady’s Holm, Scatness, Shetland Orca 4 Simon Allan Moving slowly then lost behind holm
June 3 21:52 North end of Lady’s Holm, Scatness, Shetland Orca 4 Karen Hall 4 orca (including 1 bull) far out travelling across to Gathsness (NW/W)then lost from sight 1030pm
June 3 22:25 Scatness, Shetland Otter 1 Karen Hall Fishing off the end of Sumburgh airport runway
June 3 14:25 Hoxa Head, South Ronaldsay Minke whale 1 OMMRI Travelling into the Flow in front of Flotta

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
June 4 08:00 Dunnet Head, Caithness Minke whale 1 Darran Dixon photo taken; heading west around north side
June 4 09:00-09:30 Dunnet Head, Caithness Orca 1 Vicky Harper heading east, 150m off the coast; Daniel Scott was also on site and said “saw eye patch and a dorsal fin. Looked female but unsure. Travelling east away from mainland”‘ Vicki added” Showed from 9-9:30. Hunting just below headland. Headed north towards Orkney. We waited for an hour but no more sightings”
June4 08:30 east of Warbeth graveyard, Orkney Basking shark 1 Robert Foubister about 50 metres out; seen from 07:00 by several observers feeding between Hoy Low Lighthouse and Warbeth heading east slowly. Likely same animal as off Houton/Orphir Wednesday
June 4 10:15 Duncansby Head, Caithness Minke whale 1 Lucy Baldwin
& Steve Truluck
from onboard the JOG ferry
June 4 10:40 Duncansby Head, Caithness Harbour porpoise 2 Lucy Baldwin
& Steve Truluck
from onboard the JOG ferry; 100 m
June 4 11:39 Dunnet Head, Caithness Minke whale 1 Catherine de Bertrand landwatch; feeding with birds, and slowly heading east
June 4 12:15-13:15 Talmine harbour, Sutherland Orca 8 Jessica & James Cushnir skirting the shore, mix of adults and juveniles. between 1215 and 1315 at the entrance to the Kyle of Tongue. They came in to the Kyle near Talmine and then skirted the western edge of Rabbit Island before turning to the east. Photos received: KW confirmed. Later confirmed as 27s in Melvaig by Karen Munro.
June 4 14:50 St Ninians, Shetland Orca 5+ Karl Clark Moving north – later IDed as 169s pod
June 4 15:00 Duncansby Head, Caithness Minke whale 2 Fiona Darling 1 out towards Swona, 1 out towards South Ronaldsay
June 4 15:22 Duncansby Head, Caithness Minke whale Lucy Baldwin landbased survey
June 4 15:30 Kirtomy Bay, Sutherland Orca reported by Karen Munro also reported off Skerray
June 4 15:50 Kettlaness, Burra, Shetland Orca Peter Tinkler 169s pod
June 4 15:50 St Ninians, Shetland Orca 5 Karl Clark Separate pod offshore moving south
June 4 16:13 West Burra, Shetland Minke whale 1 Pete Morris
June 4 16:27 West Burra,
Shetland
Harbour porpoise 1 Adrian Kettle
June 4 16:52 West Skerries,
Burra, Shetland
Harbour porpoise 15 Gary Buchan
June 4 16:54 Out Skerries, Shetland Minke whale 1 Andrew Harrop
June 4 17:10 West Skerries,
Burra, Shetland
Orca 5 Hugh Harrop 169s pod
June 4 17:11 West Skerries,
Burra, Shetland
Minke whale 3 Pete Morris
June 4 17:13 West Skerries,
Burra, Shetland
Orca 7 Hugh Harrop 169s pod with 2 unidentified bulls heading back south
June 4 17:50 Strathy Point, Sutherland Orca 5 reported by Karen Munro heading east; 27s pod; same pod sighted off Kirtomy at 15:30
June 4 19:45 St Ninians,
Shetland
Harbour porpoise 1 Karen Hall
June 4 20:05 Burrastow,
Walls, Shetland
Basking shark 1 David Wege
June 4 20:57 Scatness,
Shetland
Harbour porpoise 3 Karen Hall
June 4 22:00 Scatness,
Shetland
Harbour porpoise 5 Karen Hall With otter as well
June 4 22:25 Hillswick,
Shetland
Basking shark 1 Jay Evans
June 4 23:05 Thurso Bay, Caithness Orca 5 Hazel Masson 27s pod; 3 females, 2 bulls; killed a HP at 20:12 in Dounreay, and a seal at 23:02 in Thurso; they were last seen in Shetland 25/26th May
June 4 15:55 Duncansby Head, Caithness Minke whale 1 Steve Truluck breaching minke whale from the ferry
June 4 11:25 Hoxa Head, South Ronaldsay Harbour porpoise 2 OMMRI heading NW. Out towards Switha

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
June 5 04:37 Off Skarfskerry, Caithness Orca 8 Steve Truluck 27s pod; heading east; 5.23 heading to Gills; 5.40 now a short distance east of St John’s Point and heading north; Multiple breaches from 72 and another pod member; 5.52 heading east towards Stroma Sound; Lots of breaching between St John’s & Stroma as they went towards Stroma; they were last seen in Shetland 25/26th May
June 5 07:53 4 miles
north of
Fair Isle, Shetland
Basking shark 1 Deryk Shaw 4 miles north of Fair Isle; from the Fair Isle ferry
June 5 10:22 east of Duncansby Head, Caithness Minke whale 1 Teri Carlton & Steve Truluck seen from ferry; 1000m northeast of Duncansby Head
June 5 10:30 Dunnet Head, Caithness Minke whale 1 Darran Dixon 2 km west of Dunnet Head
June 5 06:15 Duncansby Head, Caithness Orca 8 Cath Bain &
Karen Munro
27s pod; lost at some point in the fog
June 5 11:45 Marwick head, Orkney Minke whale 1 OMMRI 6km out
June 5 15:45 Hoxa Head, South Ronaldsay Harbour porpoise 2 OMMRI 50m offshore heading south
June 5 15:40 Stronsay Firth, Orkney Minke whale 1 OMMRI 3 miles south of Rothiesholm Head travelling east
June 5 14:50 Start Point, Sanday, Orkney Minke whale 1 OMMRI 3 nautical miles south of Start Point, Sanday
June 5 11:30 Hamnavoe, Burra, Shetland Harbour porpoise 8 reported by Karen Hall mostly in thick fog
June 5 19:25 Bard of Bressay, Shetland Risso’s dolphin 20+ Pete Morris mostly in thick fog

Date Time Location Species Group size Observer/s Comments
June 6 09:05 John O’Groats, Caithness Minke whale 1 Steve Truluck from JOG ferry; 2 miles north of John O’Groats
June 6 10:15 Thurso Bay, Caithness Risso’s dolphin 6 Lorena Potter & David Houliston photos from David Houliston
June 6 11:15 SE of Auskerry, Orkney Minke whale 1 OMMRI heading south about a mile out
June 6 13:35 Birsay, West Mainland Risso’s dolphin 6+ OMMRI heading south at speed close in
June 6 15:10 Out Skerries, Shetland Orca 5-6 reported by Karen Hall