It’s 6am, keen watchers are sat huddled in their cars at Duncansby Head with a thick sea fog (or haar) rolling in from the Pentland Firth. It was almost as if we had been taken back in time to day 1 of Orca Watch 2017 (minus the rain). Visibility was a little better from the John O’ Groats ferry, Pentland Venture, however the ever-sought-after Orca failed to make an appearance. Some Risso’s dolphins were spotted at Strathy late morning which steadily made their way down the Pentland Firth and re-sighted at the Stacks a few hours later. Despite the weather, there were lots of keen watchers throughout the day up at Duncansby Head looking for fins in the mist whilst keeping an optimistic outlook despite the lack of weather cooperation.
Later in the afternoon the ‘Orca Watch’ WhatsApp group buzzed…some more cetaceans! A group of Risso’s had been seen close to the John O’Groats harbour heading east and the domino effect of the WhatsApp group caused the keen Duncansby watchers to rush closer to the sea, hoping to get a glimpse of some close cetacean action. The ever-elusive Risso’s lived up to their name and were not seen again but was great to know that the Pentland Firth was giving up some of its cetacean secrets and so early into Orca Watch week. Day 1 was wonderfully wrapped up by a fantastic talk by our keynote Marie Mrusczok from Orca Guardians of Iceland with such a high attendance we actually had to relocate rooms to an auditorium to accommodate everyone, which is a testament in itself to Marie and the fantastic work she carries out with orca in Iceland. We were pleased to learn about the life histories of some of Scotland’s visiting orca and get to grips with how important land observations are for orca sightings.
With the weather set to improve from Day 2, the Risso’s were a welcome warm-up act for the main event which will hopefully grace us with their presence tomorrow.