Friday 17th May – Sunday 26th May 2019
If you were worried that you missed the opportunity to take part into the Sea Watch Foundation’s Orca Watch event this year, then never fear – The Sea Watch Foundation in collaboration with Regional Coordinators in Scotland, Orkney and Shetland, and with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) will be organizing their very successful 2019 event again in May 2019.
The 2019 Orca Watch event will take place on the 17th-26th May in Caithness, around the Orkney and Shetland Isles!
Sea Watch Foundation in collaboration with their former Regional Coordinator Colin Bird have been organizing an annual national recording event, the Orca Watch for the past 7 years. The idea of organizing this event originated from the possibility of underwater turbines installed in the Pentland Firth, which initiated the first seasonal watch to gather information on how killer whales use this area and what might be the consequences of such an installation. This year’s 10 day-long event will see hundreds of whale enthusiast volunteers scanning the sea of the Pentland Firth to try catch a glimpse of orcas, and any other cetacean species passing by. This annual event has been created to increase public awareness of how and when orcas utilise waters of the Pentland Firth during the summer months. This event also draws attention to the need for conservation, protection and continued research into the status, distribution, and abundance of this iconic whale species around the UK.
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.
The Sea Watch Foundation staff would like to thank in advance the following organizations that are greatly contributing to the success of this year’s Orca Watch: Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), Scottish Natural Heritage, John O’Groats Ferries, Pulteneytown People’s Centre, RSPB wardens at Marwick Head, Sanday Development Trust, organizers of the Orkney Nature Festival, High Life Highland Countryside Rangers and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.
Finally, thanks to all Orca Watch volunteers who have contacted the event organizers and who are going to help making this event a great success!
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. 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, or if you want to volunteer during the event, then please contact Sea Watch Lead Organizers, on email@example.com.
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.
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.
See timetableJohn O'Groats to Orkney ferry
Ferry trips to spot orcas!
Fares: £18/19 (with transfer between port and Kirkwall). Children under 16 half price. Under 5’s, bicycles & dogs free.
Please liaise with John O’Groats Ferries to book tickets and to assure your chosen trip is going ahead. 01955 611353 or book online jogferry.co.uk. There’s a provisional timetable above and please note that on 21 May there will be departures from John O’Groats at 8.45am & 10:30am only. The 10:30 boat will dock in Lyness (Hoy) before returning at 16:30pm
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Booking:John O’Groats Ferry on 01955 611535 (quote ranger trip when booking).
Join RSPB staff in celebrating the wildlife of the North coast as part of Sea Watch Foundation’s Orca Watch 2017.
Meet at Dunnet Head to join the guided walk to look at the seabird colonies. Learn about the nature of the North coast and if we are lucky maybe even spot some whales or dolphins.
Dunnet Head is exposed. Suitable clothing and footwear are required. Children must be accompanied by an adult. For more details on the site visit: www.rspb.org.uk/dunnethead
Join our volunteer Orca Watch coordinator, Anna, for a watch from Strathy Point. Please dress sensibly for changeable weather and bring the food and drink you may require for the length of your watch. Please contact Anna if you would like to attend on email@example.com.
Orca Watch (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/groups/orcawatch/
Shetland Orca Sightings (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/groups/shetlandorcasightings/
Orkney Cetacean Sightings (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/groups/322499874791151/
Thank you for getting involved!