Follow Wild Scotland
Facebook Blog Twitter Instagram
Bookmark and Share

Stay up to date with Wild Scotland and sign up for our Newsletter

2019 Sea Watch Foundation’s Orca Watch: high diversity of cetacean species sighted during this year’s event! 

The annual Orca Watch event started on Friday 17th May in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, and so many fantastic cetacean species have already been recorded!

Every year, scientists at the Sea Watch Foundation lead a campaign to involve members of the general public in collecting records of orcas, and any other cetacean species utilising the waters of the Pentland Firth and neighbouring seas, and they are calling on hundreds of people to get involved with the Orca Watch between 17th and 26th May 2019!

For over forty years, Sea Watch Foundation scientists as well as volunteer observers all around the coasts of the British Isles from Shetland to the Isles of Scilly have been reporting sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) to inform Sea Watch’s massive database of records. The scheme is one of the oldest and longest running citizen science projects in the world.

In Caithness, orcas were sighted on May 21st by Sea Watch volunteer observers onboard the John O’Groats ferry connecting the Caithness mainland with Orkney. A pod of 4-5 animals including a calf were sighted a few miles off Duncansby Head, travelling east, and then to round off the day, a bull orca was spotted at a distance heading north from Duncansby Head. Other orca sightings were reported off Burwick on May 20th around lunch time when a small pod was seen. The first sighting of orcas was reported between Stroma and Switha on May 17th.

Other cetacean species sighted in the last five days included harbour porpoises off Duncansby Head, Dunnet Head, St John’s Point, and the Stacks of Duncansby. Minke whales were seen off Duncansby Lighthouse, Dunnet Head, and Brough with a sighting also off John O’Groats. And Risso’s dolphins were recorded off St John’s Point.

In Orkney, Risso’s dolphins were sighted off Birsay, Hoy Sound; a minke whale was seen off Papa Westray from Sanday, by our local Orca Watch organizers.

In Shetland, sightings included a humpback whale off Nista Skerries, Uyea, as well as harbour porpoises, minke whales and Risso’s dolphins. Unusual sightings for Shetland included a lone common dolphin encountered on May 21st off Gletness.

Both Orkney and Shetland have had records of basking sharks while a family of otters was sighted at the John O’Groats harbour, in Caithness.

“We are ecstatic about the most recent sightings of orcas reported from the JOG ferries and for the many other species which were reported so far around Caithness, Orkney and Shetland!” says Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sea Watch Sightings Officer and lead organiser of this year’s event.

“Orca Watch is a great opportunity for anyone to get involved in cetacean conservation, it is about collecting vital data for the protection and conservation of local cetacean species, and it is about sharing this magical event with volunteer observers from different paths in life and having fun all together”, concludes Chiara.

Full details of all Orca Watch sightings can be found here:

SEA WATCH WEBSITE: https://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/orca-watch-2019/

SEA WATCH FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/groups/orcawatch/

SHETLAND SIGHTINGS FB PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/groups/shetlandorcasightings/
ORKNEY SIGHTINGS FB PAGE – https://www.facebook.com/groups/322499874791151/

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT SEA WATCH FOUNDATION, THE ORCA WATCH EVENT AND FOR PICTURES PLEASE CONTACT: Chiara G. Bertulli atchiara.giulia.bertulli@seawatchfoundation.org.uk.

 

View All News Items