Visiting or staying in Orkney during Orca Watch? To help you plan for your stay on Orkney, take a look through these Frequently Asked Questions.
Clicking on the plus sign at the right of the question reveals the answer. Please note that we will be updating this information as the event draws nearer, so if your question isn’t urgent, it is always worth checking back periodically to see if it has been answered.
Orca Watch on Orkney
Our partner on Orkney, the Orkney Marine Mammal Research Initiative (OMMRI), will be running some land watches from Orkney during Orca Watch. These will take place in some of Orkney’s best cetacean watching spots and will include Hoxa Head, Yesnaby, Marwick Head and Birsay.
Saturday 28th May – Orca Watch day 1 – is Marine Mammal Day at Scapa Beach, Orkney. Click here to find out more.
Then, that evening, starting from 7:30pm (but with access from 7:20pm) we’ll be livestreaming, from the Pulteney Centre in Wick, our opening evening of orca-themed talks.
From Monday 30th May – Thursday 2nd June, and on Saturday 4th June, at 7pm we will be livestreaming a short, daily roundup programme live from the Orca Watch base, discussing what has been seen at Orca Watch that day, on the mainland and around Orkney, Shetland. On Sunday 5th June this programme will be a little earlier, at 6.30pm.
OMMRI, our regional coordinator on Orkney, will be keeping in close touch with the Orca Watch team at the base so hopefully we will all be sharing all the latest news and sightings with each other during the event.
Details of how to access these programmes and the Evening of Talks can be found here.
Group Land Watches taking place on the Orkney Mainland during Orca Watch
Date Location Time Notes
Sunday 29th May Yesnaby 2pm – 5pm Car parking, no facilities
Monday 30th May Ness Battery 2pm – 5pm Car parking, facilities nearby
Tuesday 31st May Marwick Head 12noon – 3pm Car parking, no facilities
Wednesday 1st June The Gloup, Deerness 6.30pm – 8.30pm Car parking, facilities
Friday 3rd June Rerwick, Tankerness 6.30pm – 8.30pm Car parking, no facilities
Saturday 4th June Hoxa Head 12noon – 3pm Car parking, no facilities
Sunday 5th June Yesnaby 12noon – 3pm Car parking, no facilities
Group Land Watches taking place at Stanger Head, Flotta, during Orca Watch
Details of land watches taking place on Papa Westray, Sanday, and Hoy will be published shortly.
Please note that the weather on Orkney can change very quickly, so watches may need to be cancelled or curtailed at short notice. Following or keeping an eye on the OMMRI Facebook page is the best way to keep up to date with what is happening on Orkney.
Yes, you can. There are many sites around Orkney that offer a fair to good chance of seeing whales, dolphins and porpoises. You can download a map of these sites here.
OMMRI offers a free course (although donations are welcomed) to folk who are planning to undertake surveys in Orkney. These dates are announced on the OMMRI Facebook page first so be sure to keep an eye on your page and book your slot.
Visit https://www.orkney.com/plan/accommodation for accommodation ideas.
Under Scotland’s access rights, you can ‘wild’ camp, but should adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code ad seek permission from the landowner before setting up camp. You can find the code, and what is meant by ‘wild’ camping, by following this link: http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/practical-guide-all/camping.
It is worth noting that these rights do not extend to campervans. If you are travelling by motorhome or campervan, stick to designated campsites or overnight parking places and never take your vehicle off-road unless you have the landowner’s permission. If public or private landowners restrict or regulate parking on their land, you must comply with this.
The following information is from www.orkney.com.
BY FERRY: Northlink Ferries run an overnight ferry between Aberdeen and Kirkwall (Mainland) and between Scrabster and Stromness (Mainland). Click here to connect to the Northlink Ferries website.
Pentland Ferries sail between Gills Bay and St Margaret’s Hope (South Ronaldsay). Click here to connect to the Pentland Ferries website. Foot passengers can also travel on the John O’Groats ferry between John O’Groats and Burwick (South Ronaldsay). Click here to check out their website.
BY AIR: Logan Air offers several flights to Kirkwall (Mainland), from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and Sumburgh (Shetland). Click here to go to the Logan Air website.
Orkney ferries operate an inter-island ferry service. All of them are available to foot passengers, and many allow cars. There is also an inter-island flight service.
A regular bus service operates around Orkney, and there are taxi companies. You can also hire bikes in Stromness (Mainland) and in Kirkwall (Mainland), and on some of the islands, including North Ronaldsay and Stronsay.
Please be aware that the majority of the watch sites are remote and not well-served by public transport.
Visit https://www.orkney.com/plan/getting-around to find out more.