ORCA OceanWatch

- Common dolphin taken from Cunard's Queen Elizabeth in the Strait of Gibraltar during OceanWatch 2015.

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. 

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

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

In 2015, ORCA trained bridge crews to collect data on the populations and distributions of these animals whilst sailing offshore.  

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 are taking 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, NorthLink Ferries, P&O Ferries, Portsmouth International Port, Red Funnel, Royal Navy, Saga, The Chamber of Shipping and WightLink.


- ORCA patron Chris Packham with Anna and representatives from Portsmouth International Port and Brittany Ferries at the ORCA OceanWatch launch, July 2-15

- Bottlenose dolphin seen during OceanWatch 2015

Read the full report here: OceanWatch 2015

OceanWatch 2016 will take place on 23rd July – 31st July 2016.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @ORCA_web  #ORCAOceanWatch

If you would like your vessels to be involved in ORCA OceanWatch 2016, 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.

OceanWatch Partners