ORCA OceanWatch

- Education Coordinator Anna Bunney trains Captain Allan Scott and First Officer Robert Manson from NorthLink Ferries in Scotland

What is it?

ORCA OceanWatch is an exciting initiative aimed at involving seafarers in the collection of data on whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) that they encounter whilst out to sea.

The event aims to raise the profile of British and European cetaceans while collecting a large amount of data over a concentrated period of time. The data will also contribute to the National Whale and Dolphin Watch in collaboration with Sea Watch Foundation. 

ORCA OceanWatch 2017 will be taking place between the 29th July and the 6th August 2017.  During this time, seafarers will be recording their sightings, whilst ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyors and Wildlife Officers will be out in force to survey as much of our seas as possible.

If you would like your vessels to be involved in ORCA OceanWatch 2017, please contact Anna Bunney on anna.bunney@orcaweb.org.uk.  Full training for bridge crews are delivered by the ORCA team, and each ship is given a comprehensive training pack.  

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @ORCA_web  #ORCAOceanWatch

ORCA OceanWatch 2017

This year, we have 13 ferry and cruise ship partners involved in ORCA OceanWatch.  With over 40 ships collecting data, ORCA OceanWatch 2017 will be the biggest and best yet!  

- Education Coordinator Anna Bunney training the crew of the Caledonian MacBrayne Loch Seaforth

Thank you to the following partners for taking part in ORCA OceanWatch 2017:

OceanWatch 2016

The second annual ORCA OceanWatch took place between the 23rd and 31st July 2016.  An outstanding 750 sightings of cetaceans, totalling 2,526 individual animals were encountered, over six different UK and European sea regions.

- 63 bridge crew from 13 vessels were trained to record their observations and 47 volunteer ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyors and ORCA Wildlife Officers conducted surveys on a further 11 vessels.

- 13 ferry and cruise companies, consisting of 24 vessels, took part in ORCA OceanWatch 2016 (Brittany Ferries, Caledonian MacBrayne, Carnival UK (P&O Cruises and Cunard), DFDS, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Isles of Scilly Travel, John O’Groats Ferries, NorthLink, P&O Ferries, Red Funnel, Saga, Swan Hellenic, WightLink).

- The rarely sighted Sowerby's beaked whale sighted during ORCA OceanWatch 2016 in the Bay of Biscay

Read the ORCA OceanWatch 2016 report here: OceanWatch 2016 

OceanWatch 2015

The first ORCA OceanWatch took place between the 25th July to the 2nd August 2015.  Thanks to the effort of 105 crew members and 27 volunteer ORCA surveyors sailing throughout seven sea regions (North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Seas, Arctic Waters, Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast, Mediterranean and Wider Atlantic Ocean), over 432 hours of effort data were collected during the course of the nine-day ORCA OceanWatch event.

What did we see?

An outstanding 1,939 animals from 16 different species were recorded - harbour porpoises, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, white-beaked dolphins, striped dolphins, Risso's dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, pilot whales, Sei whale, fin whale, minke whales, northern bottlenose whales, humpback whale, blue whale, sperm whale and Cuvier's beaked whale!

Who is involved?

Thank you to all of our partners for taking part in ORCA OceanWatch.

The following companies took part in ORCA OceanWatch 2016: Brittany Ferries, Caledonian MacBrayne, Carnival UK (Cunard & P&O Ferries), DFDS Seaways, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Isles of Scilly Travel, John O'Groats Ferries, NorthLink Ferries, P&O Ferries, Portsmouth International Port, Red Funnel, Royal Navy, Saga, The Chamber of Shipping and WightLink.)

Thank you to the following ORCA OceanWatch partners for taking part in the project:


- ORCA patron Chris Packham with Anna Bunney, ORCA's Education Coordinator, and representatives from Portsmouth International Port and Brittany Ferries, celebrating the success of ORCA OceanWatch 2015

Read the full report here: OceanWatch 2015

OceanWatch Partners

ORCA would like to thank Discover Ferries for their support and involvement in the ORCA OceanWatch project.


ORCA OceanWatch was launched through the Your Seas - People & Port project, which was generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund