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The State of European Cetaceans 2021 has launched!

The State of European Cetaceans 2021 has launched!

Data collected from platforms of opportunity by our network of volunteers has been analysed and today our 2021 The State of European Cetaceans (SOEC) report has launched!

This report is the latest milestone in ORCA’s ongoing mission to use data collected by citizen scientists, to improve the protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises within UK and European waters.

The fifth in our series of annual reports builds upon the previous four. It summarises the distribution and range of cetacean populations with a focus in and around UK and European waters. In particular, this report looks at how citizen science can be used to better understand why in recent years more common dolphins have been observed inshore around the coast of West Scotland and the Hebrides. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this 2021 edition presents key findings from 2019.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Over 14,000 cetaceans were seen and recorded by citizen scientists in 2019
  • 29 cetacean species were observed including the bowhead whale, gray whale, Antarctic minke whale and Fraser’s dolphin, which were all firsts for ORCA
  • Common dolphins were the most frequently sighted cetacean species in 2019 with 490 encounters
  • ORCA surveyed the Southern Ocean and North Pacific Ocean for the very first time
  • The highest number of effort-based surveys were conducted in 2019 involving 109 ferry surveys and 29 cruise surveys
  • Wildlife Officers covered an incredible 76,565 km of survey effort over five sea regions

Infographic for website

Another critical part of this report is an examination by a number of cetacean experts of the multiple threats facing whales, dolphins and porpoises. These include the increasing risk of whales being hit by ships, the devastating consequences of both small and large cetaceans when they become victims of bycatch, the continued barbaric practice of commercial whaling and the growing impact of noise pollution.

ORCA’s SOEC reports continue to demonstrate why ongoing regular monitoring of cetaceans is vital. The compilation and analysis of real-time, long-term data are essential to make effective and informed decisions about the protection that whales and dolphins so urgently need.

The State of European Cetaceans 2021 report wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of our members, supporters and volunteers. ORCA volunteers have freely given their time and effort to generate the citizen science which is the foundation of this report, so thank you for your dedication to our work. ORCA are dependent on voluntary contributions from the public and much of our support comes through single donations that are an essential part of funding our work. By giving a donation you can help us to continue our surveys in the UK, Europe and beyond, and help to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Find out more and read the full The State of European Cetaceans 2021 report here.