ORCA’s vision is to see the oceans alive with whales and dolphins and this World Oceans Day we’re excited to tell you about the launch of a brand new citizen science programme – ORCA OceanWatchers.
This new initiative will allow us to monitor important ocean habitats so we can continue to drive policy and help create protected areas in UK and European waters.
We’ve designed ORCA OceanWatchers to enable everyone to collect data in a flexible way and will give you the opportunity to contribute to our work to protect the ocean and the animals that call it their home.
In partnership with The Field Studies Council, we will be bringing you a brand new interactive online training course that will give you all the skills needed to partake in this new programme. This course will teach you everything you need to know about how to identify the different species of cetacean likely to be sighted in UK and European waters and how to use the brand new bespoke ORCA OceanWatchers surveying app (available on iOS and Android).
The online training course and app will enable everyone to collect effort-based data about whales, dolphins and porpoises. This data can be collected at anytime, anywhere that you can see the sea, no matter the platform you’re on or the people you’re with, whether that’s from your local beach, on holiday at the coast, scanning the seas from a cruise ship, working on an offshore platform, travelling via ferry or from your own boat.
The flexible ORCA OceanWatchers survey methodology will enable many people to get involved with our vital monitoring work and collect data more regularly. To take part in the programme you will need to:
The first part of the programme is to participate in the ORCA OceanWatchers course which is all online and very flexible. It’s undertaken over three weeks with a few hours’ worth of course content each week and included are two zoom sessions with ORCA staff to go through the content. On completion, and once you have joined ORCA as a member, you will be given a unique login for the ORCA OceanWatchers app and you can get out there and start surveying! Once data from your survey has been uploaded it will go directly to the ORCA Data Portal and will help us to continue our vital work in monitoring vulnerable cetacean populations and protecting critical marine habitats.
This brand new programme is designed to complement our two decades of data collection, whilst allowing citizen scientists to collect data in a new and exciting way – both on land and at sea. It also complements the vital work that our Marine Mammal Surveyor volunteers do when they are collecting data from the bridge of a ship (find out more about our Marine Mammal Surveyors here).