ORCA OceanWatch continued to grow from strength to strength in 2019 with ferry and cruise partners working to do their bit for cetacean conservation.
ORCA OceanWatch aims to raise the profile of British and European cetaceans whilst collecting a large amount of data over a concentrated period of time, and involving seafarers in citizen science. This exciting initiative sees ORCA training bridge crews to collect data on the whales, dolphins and porpoises they see whilst out at sea over a dedicated nine-day period at the end of July, beginning of August. Not only does this data contribute to ORCA’s database, but it also contributes to the National Whale and Dolphin Watch, an initiative ran by The Sea Watch Foundation, that inspires members of the public to get involved in shore watches during the same time.
2019 was the fifth year that ORCA OceanWatch has run, and it took place between 27h July and 4th August. During the 9 days, trained seafarers recorded their sightings, whilst ORCA volunteer Marine Mammal Surveyors, Cruise Conservationists and Wildlife Officers were out across the seas to collect data and inspire passengers about the wildlife around them.
This year’s numbers have been crunched and the results are in! An incredible 296 hours and 23 minutes on survey effort was recorded from 30 different ships. An amazing 2,155 cetaceans were seen and 18 different species recorded including, false killer whales, belugas and Sowerby’s beaked whales. The most commonly seen cetacean was the common dolphin with 883 recorded during the 9 days. 22 other marine animals were also seen and recorded including leatherback turtles, common seals, basking sharks and ocean sunfish.
On OceanWatch 2019, ORCA’s Head of Education Anna Bunney, who runs the initiative said:
“It’s been another incredible ORCA OceanWatch, with over 2,000 animals sighted, and that’s only in 9 days! Not only will all of the data collected go towards ORCA’s huge and vital dataset, but it also contributes to the Sea Watch Foundation’s National Whale and Dolphin Watch. None of this would have been possible without the amazing support of our ferry and cruise partners.”
We would like to extend our thanks to all of the organisations and our partners that supported us and took part in ORCA OceanWatch 2019, it was a huge success and we hope you will join us again next year!