Click here for details for Orca Watch 2024
Orca Watch 2024 will take place from 25th May to 2nd June.
Orca Watch is one of our two annual Citizen Science events (the other one being National Whale and Dolphin Watch Week). It is a nine-day event, based in John O’Groats but with watches taking place all around Caithness and North Sutherland, and around Orkney and Shetland.
As in the last two years, 2024 will see Sea Watch Foundation setting up the Orca Watch base in the library at the Inn at John O’Groats (huge thanks once again to our host, Together Travel), and organising a schedule of watches, events etc throughout the week. As always, the focus will be to collect as much data as possible about all the cetaceans in the Orca Watch area, while hoping to see the iconic orca!
For more details about the event, click the link above. Further details about the event and how to get involved will be posted here and via our social media channels in due course, but for now save the date!
To look back at the last three Orca Watches, or to access the official reports, click on the relevant button below.
The background to Orca Watch
In collaboration with our former Regional Coordinator, Colin Bird, we have organised this annual national recording event, Orca Watch, for the past nine years. The idea for the event originated from the possibility of underwater turbines being installed in the Pentland Firth. This possibility 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.
Sea Watch would like to thank the following for their support of Orca Watch: John O’Groats Ferries, RSPB wardens at Marwick Head, Orkney Marine Mammal Research Initiative, High Life Highland Countryside Rangers, The Cabin at John o’Groats, Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetland Wildlife, John O’Groats Development Trust, Dunnet & Cannisbay Community Council, NatureScot, and our host at John O’Groats, Together Travel, together with our other official Accommodation Partners for 2023, and from previous years.