On 6th June we reached the end of Orca Watch Online 2021, with a final round up of the sightings, a final chat with our correspondents on the ground, and a look back at what we have seen and learnt during the week. We then looked forward to the rest of the Sea Watch year, including our next event, National Whale and Dolphin week.
Next year we hope once more to get together in person for Orca Watch 2022, back at our base at John o’Groats, with watches all over the Caithness and North Sutherland area, and on Orkney and Shetland. So save the dates – 28th May – 5th June.
Looking back at the week, we began on 29th May, with the virtual version of our ever popular evening of orca-themed talks. This included an introduction to the event itself, a general introduction to orca, and then our keynote speaker, Filipa Samara, shared with us her work on orca in Iceland, followed by a question and answer session.
Then, each night from Monday 31st May, we hosted an evening Orca Watch Live session during which, among other things, we looked at any sightings that were submitted, heard from our partners ‘on the ground’, and generally discussed what had been happening, as well as answering your questions about the week and our work.
All these free evening sessions are available to catch-up with on YouTube, on our Sea Watch Foundation channel.
Highlights included the announcement of the first sighting of a new orca calf in the #12s (see Tuesday’s evening), and on Wednesday, for our first Special, some of the team behind the Scottish Killer Whale Photo-ID catalogue joined our director, Dr Peter Evans, to talk about this, and orca generally. They also discussed suitable camera equipment for photographing orca – a theme followed up by our host on Thursday. In Monday’s show we were joined by our Monitoring Officer, Katrin Lohrengel, who discussed her work monitoring the bottlenose dolphin in Cardigan Bay, and we met our sightings officer, Dr Chiara G Bertulli, on Friday’s show, who told us about her work. We also met the skipper of the John O’Groats ferry, our platform for observing from sea during orca watch and, while we were on air, we received a report of orca in the area!
In Saturday’s Special, we looked at all the sightings from a very busy Friday before we were joined by our director, Dr Peter Evans to guest host the rest of the evening. Peter gave a little talk about binoculars for sea watching (following on from previous discussions about cameras), before introducing the first of our special guests, Julia Sutherland, from St Andrew’s University, who shared her work for her phd thesis on orca seal predation. After this presentation, Peter chaired a discussion and question and answer session with Julia, and some more special guests, Dr Saana Isojunno (Research Fellow, Scottish Oceans Institute, St Andrew’s University) and Dr Filipa Samarra (Research Specialist, Icelandic Orca Project and University of Iceland).
This project is supported by NatureScot, through the PlungeIn! The Coasts and Waters Community Fund.