Orca Watch on Shetland – FAQs

Visiting or staying in Shetland during Orca Watch? To help you plan for your stay on Shetland, 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 Shetland

  • Will there be watches taking place in Shetland?

    Every day is orca watch day on Shetland!  Our regional coordinator for Shetland, Karen Hall, will be running some land watches from Shetland during Orca Watch.  Most of her activity will be in the south Mainland –  Sumburgh Head, Mousa Sound and Levenwick. Other local observers may also run some land watches.

  • Where can I find out about the timing of watches on Shetland?

    The following land watches have been planned for Orca Watch week, organised by our regional coordinator for Shetland, Karen Hall. It would help us if you would let Karen know which watches you are intending to join. You can do this by the Facebook page.

    Monday 30th May, 1730- 1900 Mousa Sound*

    Wednesday 1st June, 1000: – 11:00 – Levenwick (probably north junction – depends on the weather

    Thursday 2nd June, 1600 – 1800 – Mousa Sound

    Friday 3rd June, 1400-1600 – Levenwick

    Sunday 5th June, 1300 – 1700 – Sumburgh Head

    Please note that the weather in Shetland can change very quickly, so watches may need to be cancelled or curtailed at short notice.  Also if orca appear nearby watches will be adjusted so that folk can go and watch them.  Following or keeping an eye on the https://www.facebook.com/groups/shetlandorcasightings Facebook page is the best way to keep up to date with what is happening on Shetland.

    *This first watch may need to be cancelled at short notice. Please check on the Facebook page before setting out.

  • Do I have to book to come to a watch?

    Although the watches are open to all, once the planned watches have been announced (on this website and on the Shetland Orca Sightings Facebook page it would help us if you would let our Regional Coordinator for Shetland, Karen Hall, know which watches you are intending to join. You can do this by the Facebook page.

  • Can I undertake watches by myself?

    Yes, you can. There are many sites around Shetland that offer a fair to good chance of seeing whales, dolphins and porpoises. You can download a map of these sites here.

    We suggest you download the Sea Watcher App (see here) and record your watches using the App. That way any sightings you see are captured by Sea Watch and can be shared quickly. But also please post details of any sightings on the Shetland Orca Sightings Facebook page.

  • How can I find out about accommodation on Shetland?


    for accommodation ideas.

  • Can I wild camp on Shetland?

    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.

    You can find more information about camping and wild camping on Shetland here: https://www.shetland.org/visit/plan/caravan-camping

    Please note that campsites can get booked up quite quickly.


    Scotland’s access rights do not include motor vehicles.  If public or private land owners restrict or regulate parking on their land, you must comply with this. 

  • How do I get to Shetland?

    There is no direct route to Shetland from John O’Groats and the Orca Watch area on the mainland.

    The following information is from www.shetland.org.

    BY FERRY: Northlink Ferries run an overnight ferry to Lerwick from Aberdeen or Kirkwall (Orkney).  Click hereto connect to the Northlink Ferries website.

    BY AIR:  Logan Air offers several flights from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Kirwall and Manchester. Click here to go to the Logan Air website.


  • How do I get about Shetland?

    Shetland Islands Council 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 Shetland, and there are taxi companies.

    Please be aware that the majority of the watch sites are remote and not well-served by public transport.

    Visit https://www.shetland.org/visit/plan/getting-around to find out more.

  • What else will be taking place as part of Orca Watch around Shetland?

    Saturday 28th May,  starting from 7:30pm (but with access from 7:20pm) we’ll be livestreaming our opening evening of orca-themed talks,  from the Pulteney Centre in Wick.

    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 at John O’Groats, 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.

    Details of how to access these programmes and the Evening of Talks can be found here.

    Karen, our regional coordinator on Shetland, 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.