Welcome to Day 4 of Orca Watch 2021
Yesterday was a very exciting day and we have some great news to share! Today however has been a very quiet so far so let’s hope for some more action before the day is out!
The big news was that the 12s group were spotted in multiple locations around Shetland. The story is told below but join us for Orca Watch Live! at 7:30pm when Hugh Harrop will be joining us to tell the story in more detail and share some breaking news with us! Register for free here!
The 12s Group in Shetland!
The group were first picked up moving through Bluemull Sound at around 1045 by Michael Rimmel and Paul Harvey and then moved quickly down the east side of Yell. It was back-of-camera images from Ryan Nisbet that first confirmed their identity and as you can see he was able to get some amazing shots!
They were initially tracked from Cullivoe through to northern Yell and as well as the matriarch #12 herself, #160. #161, #162 and #163, the calf “Tili”, were identified as part of the group of 6-8 animals.
Later in the day they were seen again; at 1303 by Tom Allen at Wick of Gossabrough on Yell where they made a kill and then again by Hugh Harrop at Collafirth at 13:03. At this point they were moving quickly with lots of time underwater and Hugh found them again at 18:30, this time at North Roe.
There is more news yet to share about this sighting but you will have to join us for Orca Watch Live! at 7:30 to find out about it! Hugh Harrop will be with us to tell all so why not get you free link here!
Sightings Map – Monday 31st May
As described above, this was an exciting day, but the multiple sightings of the 12s orcas around Shetland were not the whole story. Steve Dudley also spotted 5 Risso’s dolphins at West Kirbet, Westray.
In fact 5 cetacean species as well grey seals and an unidentified cetacean species, possibly white-beaked dolphin were recorded!
Orkney got in on the action, with SWF and OMMRI observers recording Risso’s and common dolphins and you can hear more about this from Emma Neave-Webb on tonight’s Orca Watch Live!
On the mainland, you can see Catherine’s sightings from Gairloch as reported below as well as common dolphin by Stuart of Cook Sailing/HWDT. At Burghead in the Moray Firth, bottlenose dolphins were reported by Andy Lawson. Finally, the grey seals were reported by Margaret Mullaney at Duncansby Head.
News from Gairloch
Orca Watch, and indeed the work of Sea Watch Foundation all year round, would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers and one of these is Catherine de Bertrand.
Working her way north, yesterday she was in Gairloch and her sightings began within 5 minutes of settling down on the beach!
Due to the distance involved though, she could not be sure whether she was seeing bottlenose dolphins or white-beaked dolphins but knew they could not be Risso’s because of the beak, nor common because of the size and colouration.
Catherine explained that “After some leaping around, they went around the back of a small island and then two harbour porpoises appeared! Later still, the dolphins came back and my day was complete! I was so happy!”
Free Sea Watcher Sightings App
The Sea Watcher Sightings App is a free download and available for iOS and Android. Catherine used it for her sightings reported above and found it so easy and convenient to use.
You can record one-off sightings, record a timed watch from sea or shore and the app also features a field guide, including photographs and video, of the 35 species most often see in the UK and north-west Europe.
A look back to Friday
This photograph by John Bray is of two of the 5 orcas seen moving east from Staxigoe on Friday. John’s home is very near the coast and he was actually alerted to their presence by the crowds outside his window!
The same group were later picked up by Steve Truluck at Duncansby Head where he is sure a seal kill was made near The Stacks.
A look ahead to the rest of the week
Don’t miss tonight’s show with the breaking news story about yesterday’s sighting of the 12s Group in Shetland. Your free registration link is here. And on Wednesday in our Photo ID Special we hear from the team behind the Scottish Killer Whale Photo Identification Catalogue. Click here to register for free!
You can also still enjoy our amazing “Evening of Talks” for just £6.50 by clicking here.
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?
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
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.
Thank you for your interest in Orca Watch 2021 and the work of Sea Watch Foundation.
Sea Watch Ambassador