Orca Watch Volunteer Observer Scheme

We are inviting both experienced watchers and novices to register to become Orca Watch Volunteer Observers, responsible for conducting land watches around Caithness and North Sutherland and/or watches from the John O’Groats ferry, collecting data for us using Sea Watch protocols. The data collected will be added to Sea Watch’s national database, recognised as the largest and longest running scientific data resource of its kind in Europe, to help monitor the abundance of whales and dolphins in the area. This information is used to help shape conservation measures at government level.

Please note: the scheme is centred upon the mainland. However, there will be opportunities to take part in land watches also in Orkney and Shetland, and to take part in the pre-event training. If you are planning to be in one of those island groups during Orca Watch and want to take part in watches, please get in touch by emailing orcawatch@seawatchfoundation.org.uk.

As an Orca Watch Volunteer Observer you will receive:

  • dedicated training (via Zoom) prior to the event on the Sea Watch protocols and the materials you need to collect the data. We appreciate that for experienced observers some of this will be very familiar to you but your previous experience will be invaluable to new volunteers both during the training and the watches. It is also important that everyone works to the same protocols.
  • a drop-in session on the first Saturday at John O’Groats to meet the team, answer any questions etc. 
  • support of the Orca Watch team throughout the week, including a dedicated volunteer co-ordinator
  • an ‘Orca Volunteer Observer’s Pack’ including
    • the event wristband (giving you a 75% discount on the scheduled twice-daily ferry service when not part of the team collecting data on the ferry) and other discounts (to be confirmed), 
    • Sea Watch/Orca Watch merchandise, ID guides and factsheets and a voucher for £15 off a future, more detailed Sea Watch training course (see here).
  • access to a private WhatsApp group to help all the Orca Watch Volunteer Observers share their experience, ask questions, share sightings etc.
  • a get together / wrap-up session at the end of the week to share experiences and learnings.
  • a certificate noting your contribution as an Orca Watch Volunteer Observer.

In return, we ask you each for a non-refundable registration fee of £25, to contribute to the cost of Orca Watch. 

Click here for frequently asked questions about the scheme.

Click here to find out how to apply for the scheme.

Click here for the terms and conditions.