Welcome back for the final round-up blog of Orca Watch 2022.
Beautiful skies again with a slight breeze – layers were needed up at Duncansby Head and Dunnet Head!
We’ve been spending the day wrapping things up here, preparing for our final round-up on YouTube. We’ve really enjoyed having a permanent base in the John O’Groats Inn library this year, thanks to Stephanie and her team at Together Travel. Many thanks to everyone who popped in to visit us this week, whether to tell us what you’d seen, where you’d come from in the hope of seeing orca, to buy Orca Watch 2022 merchandise or to find out what Sea Watch Foundation is all about. We closed the Orca Watch Base at 3pm today as the team hopped on the ferry for one last time, hoping to glimpse a fin or two!
Find all the Orca Watch 2022 blog posts here, and have a read through what we have been up to and what we have seen over the last nice days.
We’ll see you next year for Orca Watch 2023 – date TBC. Our round-up event will take place online on 26th June at 7:30pm taking a look back at this year, what was seen and what it might mean. To find out details of this event and any upcoming Orca Watch news please do go ahead and subscribe to our Orca Watch mailing list!
Key sightings update
Last night we had a sighting of a Humpback whale about 1m east of Lossiemouth. We’ve had a few sightings of Humpback whales in the Moray Firth over the last few days – definitely head there if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of one!
We had reports of porpoise close in off Holborn Head, Orca off of Scapa Pier again and another group that made a kill of a seal at approximately 19:50 out from the Bay of Sandoyne Holm (around six animals including a young one). Our watchers continued into the evening last night with a lovely sighting of a minke and young calf from Duncansby Head at approximately 21:55, using a scope and further porpoise were also seen from Gills Harbour slowly travelling west.
Sunday 5th June
We had an early sighting of porpoise from Duncansby Head from around 7:30. A Minke whale was seen about 2km off the front of the ferry heading towards the end of South Ronaldsay. Two porpoises were also seen from the boat heading northeast. We had reports of orca off the tanker in Scapa Flow. We then all got excited at unconfirmed reports of orca seen by the Hamnavoe making for Holborn Head. George sent out a message to the volunteers for everyone to look west from Dunnet Head for possible black fins, but we then had further confirmation from Karen that the cetaceans seen were in fact Risso’s.
At least two orca were seen playing near the tanker from Scapa Pier and two Risso’s dolphins were seen off Dunnet Head heading east.
And… what a way to end Orca Watch 2022. As I was about to finish the final blog we got reports of two bull Orca sighted from Duncansby Head heading towards the Stacks. They were reported to be travelling fast near to a yacht, south towards Freswick where they were then sighted just 8 minutes later. The lucky passengers on the wildlife cruise also got a glimpse of the two bulls as they appeared to be leaving Orca Watch! Ha!
That is all the sightings today dated up until 3pm. For further information on sightings please head to our website where, although a slight delay, all the sightings from this week (including those noted on the Sea Watcher App) will be published.
Messages of thanks
We’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those that have helped us to bring this event together this year..
All our official SWF Volunteer Observers for collecting the all-important data that helps us to protect the animals in our UK and Irish waters. It was great to have you all as representatives for Sea Watch Foundation over the last week, being a point of contact for others visiting the landwatch sites and on the ferry, helping many to spot cetaceans. Our Volunteer Observers: Bill. Emily, Cath, Katie, Daniel, Johanna, Andy, Diane, Harry, James, Linda, Ella, Lesley, Teresa, Donna, Olivia, Sherie, Susie, Christy, Ben, Hanna, Hazel (and Pebbles), Steve, Lindsey, Rose, Samanta, Gemma, Kevin, Adam, Shreya, Emma, Allan, John, Alec, Mike, Evelyn, Sarah, Gill and Cathy. Well done team and we hope to see you again next year!
All the other dedicated watchers who return year after year to share in the excitement of orca watching.
Steve Truluck for helping get eyes on the cetaceans, leading to many seeing the animals for the first time and for co-hosting the Evening of Talks.
All those at the John O’Groats Ferry for running the wildlife cruises, as well as the discounted scheduled trips, allowing our surveyors on board each trip.
Filmmakers, Matt Cannon and Jake Smallwood for sharing their amazing film “Truluck” with us at the Evening of Talks. It was a privilege to premier the film at the Pulteney Centre in Wick and we look forward to sharing the film more later on in the year when it is officially out.
Our Regional Coordinator for North Kent, James Copeland for his help at the Evening of Talks, support during the week and helping people to spot wildlife on the ferry. Maybe those 27s will be back next year for your 29th birthday!
Professor Peter Evans, Christina Worth and Robin Petch for dialling in during our daily roundups.
Our Regional Coordinator for North East Scotland, Clare Boardman for all of her efforts in the run up to and during the week, always with good humour (and thanks also, to her partner Phil). Make sure to check out Clare’s campsite if you’re in the area and looking for somewhere to stay!
Paul Castle, High Life Highland ranger, for his continued support.
Stephanie and her team at Together Travel for letting us take over the library at the John O’Groats Inn as our Base for the week (and to Zoe back at Head Office).
The Cabin at John O’Groats for offering discounted food and drinks for our hungry, sometimes cold, watchers.
Antonia Salter and Lauren Eyles for their efforts to capture the work of Sea Watch Foundation for our upcoming promotional film.
The local community, represented by the John O’Groats Development Trust and Dunnet & Canisbay Community Council.
The Pulteney Centre in Wick for hosting our Evening of Talks and helping us to set up for the event last Saturday.
Crossroads Primary and Halkirk Primary staff and pupils for inviting us to talk to them about Sea Watch Foundation and our Orca Watch event. Hopefully you’ll be our eyes for the upcoming year to keep an eye on the cetaceans living off the coast up here!
Caithness and North Sutherland Development Fund for partially funding the event.
Claudia Afeltra and the team back in New Quay for helping to verify and add the sightings to the Sea Watch Foundation database.
Philip Barnes, of Barnestorming Productions for directing all the online programming – thanks for helping us out so much and baring with us through the internet connection problems!
And finally, the Orca Watch team…
Steve Marquis for supporting with social media before the event.
George Boyer, our Orca Watch Volunteer Coordinator for organising and supporting the volunteers and co-hosting our Evening of Talks.
Anne Boyer, for staffing the base and helping to look after the team – we have certainly eaten well!
Neil Parkinson for technical support in John O’Groats and Wick, online programming and staffing the base.
Katie Baker, the SWF Communication and Outreach Officer, for handling the social media, engaging with locals and schools, and staffing the base.
And finally, a massive thank you to our Orca Watch Project Manager, Hannah Parkinson for producing the entire event over many months and making Orca Watch 2022 a reality. It is without a doubt that, without Hannah, this year’s event simply wouldn’t have happened, particularly in the well-organised and successful capacity in which it did. Hannah faced many challenges after taking on Orca Watch in 2019, including a cancelled event in 2020 and an event moved online in 2021. Thank you, Hannah, for all your efforts and we can all agree you can have a well-deserved break!
See you for Orca Watch 2023. If you’d like to join our mailing list to hear all things about future Orca Watch we can send you all the information for upcoming events and Orca Watch news.
Katie Baker Communication and Outreach Officer