Welcome to Day 3 of Orca Watch 2021!
We’re off to a great start despite some poor visibility due to fog in places and the Orca Watch Breaking News Sightings Page already outlines some fabulous encounters here! We also have a Verified Sightings Page which features sightings already entered into the National Sightings Database here.
Every evening of course we have Orca Watch Live! at 7:30pm with sightings updates, live interviews and presentations. Admission to this virtual event is free so why not register right now for Tuesday’s event here.
The sightings maps do not necessarily feature all of the sightings, as they may have been produced before all the sighting for that day have been received. It may in fact be a few days before we receive some sightings. For the latest Breaking News Sightings list, please click here.
Friday 28th May
As you can see, the map shows 3 species seen, including the orca we reported in yesterday’s blog and seen at Staxigoe and Duncansby Head, Caithness by John Bray, Clare Boycott-Boardman and Steve Truluck. A further sighting at Muckle Flugga, Unst, Shetland is also shown. The sighting reported by Christina Worth and Robert Foubister at Hoxa Head, Orkney, where the wonderful photograph above was taken, is not shown, and actually since the map was made, a 4th species, minke whale, was seen by Mick Reynolds at Walls, Shetland! The 10 Risso’s dolphins seen by Tom Allen at Fetlar, Shetland and the Harbour Porpoises seen by Brian Gray at Quendale, also on Shetland, do feature.
Saturday 29th May
There are 5 species recorded on Saturday’s map including for the first time, common dolphins seen in the northern Hebrides. Our target species the orca was seen around the Out Skerries by Kris Wilson and Philip Hack and near Grif Skerry (east of Whalsay) by Philip Hack and Ryan Leith. The former sighting is reported in more detail below. The Out Skerries sighting in fact began with Kris spotting 8 Risso’s dolphins half an hour earlier and that species was also seen by Nick McCaffrey at Dore Helm, another 10 animals at least.
Sunday 30th May
Sunday was unfortunately an orca-free day but on the plus side was still the day with the highest number of species! We added a new cetacean species, bottlenose dolphin, seen in their Moray home territory by Andy Lawson at Burghead and Steve Adamson at Spey Bay but 5-6 were also seen up at Strathy Point in Caithness by Alexandra Kniese. The other new species was not a cetacean but a basking shark, seen by Angus Gragg in Scapa Bay, Shetland.
Welcome to the 169s!
This group of orca was first seen off Mio Ness, part of the Out Skerries group, heading south west on Saturday. Having been reported and photographed by Kris Wilson they were then picked up by Philip Hack who took this photograph as they moved further around the Out Skerries. The photographs allowed Hugh Harrop to confirm that the 5 animals included matriarch #169 as well as her young and as yet unnamed calf and the other two members of the group, #170 and #171. They had last been seen in Shetland on June 8th 2020 but more recently were off Caithness on May 9th this year where they were first photo-identified on May 21st 2017.
Orca Watch 2021 – An Evening of Talks
On Saturday we held our Evening of Talks. It was a huge success with wonderful feedback from our viewers and included an introduction to Orca Watch and Sea Watch Foundation, information about how to gather and report sightings, presentations on the Iconic Orca and the Icelandic Orca Project and other news and information including a Q&A session. This 2.5hr event can still be viewed by purchasing a ticket from www.eventbrite.com/e/orca-watch-online-2021-evening-of-talks-tickets-154541611119 for just £6.50.
Links to more information
Additional information can be found on our Orca Watch 2021 Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/orcawatchers or our Orca Watch Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/orcawatch/ as well as www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/orca-watch-2021/.
How can you help?
Join as a Sea Watch Member
We are always keen to recruit more observers and training is available either through our Cetacean Observer Training Course and/or more informal support from Regional Co-ordinators. A great way of learning more about cetaceans and our work is by becoming a member from only £3.50/mth. In return you will receive our outstanding online monthly Sea Watcher magazine, a monthly Sightings Report and Bulletin and access to the protected areas of the My Sea Watch website. Download a free first issue of Sea Watcher, or sign up at https://members.seawatchfoundation.org.uk
Adopt a Dolphin
If you have children, perhaps www.adoptadolphin.org.uk is the way to go. The scheme directly supports our long-standing Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project, studying and protecting Bottlenose Dolphins. As well as a cuddly dolphin, an adoption certificate, poster and other goodies, you will receive the monthly Newsplash newsletter with updates about all the dolphins and access to the private area of the website where you can follow the progress of your own adopted dolphin.
Donate to Sea Watch Foundation with the PayPal Giving Fund
The pandemic has hit funding for conservation charities, and many other people of course, very hard. Our Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project needs funding to cover the cost of boat hire, collecting and analysing data and running the office and visitor centre. Orca Watch is an expensive but vital event for us and the cetaceans we are seeking to study and protect. Similarly we have National Whale and Dolphin Watch at the end of July. Please consider donating at www.paypal.com/gb/fundraiser/charity/49262
Thank you for your interest in our work and Orca Watch 2021. Happy Watching!
Robin Petch – Sea Watch Ambassador