We’re off to an incredible start for Orca Watch 2022!
Every evening this week (apart from Friday when we have our get together with our dedicated volunteer observers) we will be bringing sightings updates to you all at home at 7pm via our YouTube. Admission to these virtual events is free (though donations are always welcome) with tickets available on Eventbrite, or simply head to our YouTube channel at 7pm each day (6:30pm on Sunday).
Arrival in John O’Groats
We arrived and began setting up our Orca Watch Base on Friday 27th May. It’s a great space and we’ve had lots of visitors over the last three days – thanks to everyone that has been coming to say hi! A special thanks too to Together Travel for letting us take over their library. Most of our voluntary coordinators have popped in to pick up their volunteer packs and high-vis jackets to start collecting and reporting sightings for Sea Watch Foundation from land and sea. We’ve got a great variety of merchandise left, as well as our discount wristbands, so make sure to drop in before we head off at the end of next Sunday.
Evening of Talks at Pulteney Centre, Wick
What a night! Thanks to George Boyer and Steve Truluck for being excellent hosts and to our special guests Peter Evans, Hugh Harrop, Karen Hall, Chloe Robinson, Emma Neave-Webb and Julia Sutherland. We were also honoured to watch the world premiere of “Truluck” – a documentary film following the life changing events that led window cleaner Steve Truluck to discover his passion for helping others fulfil their dreams of seeing orcas. Thanks to Steve and the directors, Matt Cannon & Jake Smallwood for sharing that with us all. An inspiring and captivating story that was beautifully filmed.
For those who purchased a ticket (either online or in person) you are welcome to go back and view the Evening of Talks until the link expires on 28th June. An email has been sent to you for those who purchased a ticket on Eventbrite.
We also had great success with our raffle and first sale of our exclusive Orca Watch merchandise.
Orca Watch out and about
Our filmmakers, Antonia and Lauren, have begun to capture pieces for their short promotional video for Sea Watch Foundation. This included a short interview with our Trustee and Orca Watch Volunteer Coordinator, George Boyer and our Communication and Outreach Officer, Katie Baker.
Katie also headed to Crossroads Primary School to chat to the pupils there about what Sea Watch Foundation is all about, how they can all get involved and why we are all up here in their local area for Orca Watch!
We’ve had some challenging conditions over the last couple of days, very cold with strong winds and observers have been doing an amazing job of persevering to bring us lots of updates on sightings. The weather improved today (Monday) with showers in the morning and then the sun shining through this afternoon.
Key sightings update
Now onto the all-important sightings over the last three days…
Saturday 28th May
Killer whales were seen first around lunchtime off the Trinkie. They headed north up past the windfarm and arrived at Noss Head where many of our voluntary observers and casual watchers got a glimpse from this excellent viewpoint. We had the pleasure of catching up with one of our voluntary observers, Harry Clark, during our daily round-up who gave us the scoop on this sighting at Noss Head – and his first-time seeing orca! The orca continued up the coast passing Auckengill where we also had a Risso’s dolphin sighting. Both species continued to head north past Duncansby Head and we were fortunate to have a very close encounter with one bull orca from the John O’Groats ferry. The two-bull orca then continued west along Stroma (around 5pm now), approaching the east side of Scotland’s Haven and then travelling onto Castle of Mey and off towards Hoy. The two bulls were last seen at 17:52. And now onto Shetland. Our regional coordinator, Karen Hall got the ball rolling with an orca sighting in Vidlin Voe. She suspected it to be the 65s pod that was also seen the previous day. Thanks for the updates, Karen!
Sunday 29th May
Sunday was a quieter day than Saturday with a few sightings here and there. The day started off with two harbour porpoises spotted at Dunnet Head at approximately 10am. At around 15:30 a single fin was spotted off the east end of Swona by our friends from OMMRI in Orkney. We then saw a single minke heading towards Duncansby Stacks. In Shetland, we had sightings of minke at South Nesting Bay and Muckle Skerry and Risso’s at Out Skerries.
Monday 30th May
An early start for Steve Truluck with two porpoises spotted travelling east at Gill’s Bay. At 9:15 we got a glimpse of possible Risso’s at Duncansby heading east and at 10:20 further confirmation of Risso’s in the area with a pod spotted at Auckengill heading east. They were then picked up again at Keiss, Sinclair Bay, and last seen at around 10:30. A minke was seen near to the small Stack south of Duncansby Head and between 3-5 porpoises spotted heading south. Approximately three Risso’s were spotted 5km out from Auckengill heading south with occasional breaches at 17:39. We continued to get reports of several harbour porpoise off of Duncansby Head into the evening. Unfortunately, no orca today for us on the mainland, but the same can’t be said for our lucky friends over in Orkney. They were first reported at Yesnaby at approximately 14:35 and were then confirmed to be heading north towards Skaill Bay and Marwick. Emma Neave-Webb (from OMMRI) kept us in the loop on these two males and one female for the next few hours. Two bull orca were then seen feeding south of Yesnaby at 15:47, expected to be the same animals seen an hour previously. Emma estimated at least two pods of around fifteen individuals that were widely spread between Yesnaby and Marwick. We kept an eye on these animals for the next hour or so as they headed north. Two of the individuals (bulls) were spotted on the right side of Birsay with at least eight individuals following them. They then headed out to sea north-west from the Brough of Birsay. Three Risso’s were also spotted heading south past Northside, Birsay, Orkney in the afternoon. To get a more detailed report from Orkney, we had the opportunity to catch up with Emma during our daily round-up. That’s all the sightings up until approx. 17:30 on Monday 30th May. Thanks to everyone who has been submitting sightings via Facebook, WhatsApp, our SeaWatcher App and our website! Let’s keep up the amazing effort for the rest of the week.
See you tomorrow!
We’ll see tomorrow for another live round-up and our daily blog! Thanks to everyone for joining us for Orca Watch 2022.
Katie Baker Communication and Outreach Officer