An update from ORCA Director, Sally Hamilton
I hope you and your family are keeping safe and well at this time.
ORCA are continuing to monitor Government advice and guidance with regards to COVID-19 and social distancing. We are also liaising closely with our shipping partners who are currently in the process of preparing plans to ensure services resume safely, whilst adhering to strict social distancing rules.
The wellbeing and safety of all on board is at the forefront of everyone’s minds and therefore it seems very unlikely that our Marine Mammal Surveyor ferry surveys will be able to go ahead this year, as all vessels are running at severely restricted capacity whilst adhering to social distancing. The exception to this are the Isles of Scilly surveys as these are conducted outside with no bridge access. We will be trialling the surveys over the next couple of months to ensure they can be conducted whilst complying with Government advice and therefore a small group of Marine Mammal Surveyors, local to the area and who are already mixing in a support bubble or work capacity will be participating in these.
Please remember this is a very dynamic situation, which we will continue to monitor closely and if any surveying opportunities arise we will let you know.
With regards to the Saga cruises, Saga are currently reviewing their planned operations in September and October and will be in contact with ORCA in the near future. As soon as we receive an update we will inform all our volunteers via the Surveyor Network News page.
I am sure like me, you are all missing being out at sea and collecting data on the wonderful cetaceans that inhabit our waters. Therefore, I wanted to share with you the exciting opportunity to help our good friends at the Sea Watch Foundation with their land-based surveying.
As most of you probably know, July 25th to August 2nd 2020 is National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW), a fantastic annual event organised by the charity. ORCA collaborates with Sea Watch each year by contributing our Marine Mammal Surveyor and Wildlife Officer sightings to NWDW. However, this year will be a bit different with no sea based surveys heading out any time soon we thought it would be a great opportunity for all those interested in diversifying their survey skills by participating in the NWDW land-based surveys.
If you are interested and able to take part in the 2020 NWDW here is the information on what you need to do next:
• Visit the 2020 NWDW Watch List page before choosing your watch station. It is important that different locations are chosen within the same region to ensure social distancing is fully respected, and there is equal coverage of regions
• The Regional Fact Sheets contain lists of the best view stations around the UK
• Equipment: binoculars, Sea Watch survey forms, cetacean ID guide and appropriate clothing for surveying outside on land
• If you get a sighting during your watch, you need to submit the sighting online so they can be added to the sightings database in real time
• Please keep health and safety at the forefront of your mind whilst out and ensure you adhere to the UK Government Covid-19 guidance; this
We hope you enjoy these land-based surveys and get some incredible sightings.
Thank you for your continued support and we will keep you informed of any updates to the 2020 Marine Mammal Surveyor survey season via the Surveyor Network News page and our social media pages.
With best wishes,