Saturday 29th May – Sunday 6th June 2021
Orca Watch is a ten-day event, taking place in Caithness and North Sutherland, and around the Orkney and Shetland Isles. In collaboration with our former Regional Coordinator, Colin Bird, we have organised this annual national recording event, Orca Watch, for the past 8 years. The idea for the 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. Since then, the event has increased public awareness of how and when orcas utilise waters of the Pentland Firth during the summer months. Orca Watch also highlights 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.
We are hoping that the return of Orca Watch in 2021 will once more see hundreds of volunteer whale enthusiasts scanning the sea of the Pentland Firth to try catch a glimpse of orcas, and any other cetacean species passing by.
Sea Watch would like to thank the following for their support of Orca Watch: John O’Groats Ferries, RSPB wardens at Marwick Head, Sanday Development Trust, High Life Highland Countryside Rangers, The Cabin at John o’Groats, Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetland Wildlife, and our Official Accommodation Partners.
A big thank you also to all those who were planning to come to Orca Watch 2020. We look forward to seeing you in 2021 (if circumstances permit), whether as Official Volunteers or casual observers. Without you there wouldn’t be an event, and we wouldn’t be able to collect much needed scientific data during Orca Watch and so track, year on year, the abundance of whales and dolphins (including Orca) in the Pentland Firth. We share your disappointment, but we are grateful that so many of you who had signed up to be Official Volunteers in 2020 have already committed to being Official Volunteers in 2021.
Meanwhile, there are still people, fortunate enough to live in the area, who are keeping track of the Orca and other cetaceans in the area, so if you want to follow what’s happening in the area, keep an eye on our Recent Sightings page, and, if you are on Facebook, check out the following Facebook groups: Caithness & Moray Firth Cetacean Sightings, Shetland Orca Sightings, and Orkney Cetacean Sightings.
To find out more:
As Orca Watch 2021 draws closer, you’ll find more information about published on this website, as well as on our Facebook Page – Orca Watch 2021 – which we will publish nearer the time. Or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To connect with fellow Orca Watchers, join in the discussions about the event, and to see what has gone on in previous years, join our Facebook Group – Orca Watch.