October 6, 2016
Killer whales have been spotted in Cornish waters and are some of more than 2,500 different whales, dolphins and porpoises seen around the coast in just nine days.
Overall, a record 14 different species of whales and dolphins were spotted from ferries and cruise ships. A total of 2,526 individual whales, dolphins and porpoises were sighted as part of the ORCA OceanWatch, a nine-day period of recording marine wildlife from July 23 to July 31 this year.
The project, organised by UK-based whale and dolphin charity ORCA, is a conservation initiative involving seafarers in the collection of research data on whales, dolphins and porpoises that they encounter at sea. Experts say their efforts are playing an increasingly important role in raising awareness about the diversity of wildlife that can be seen in UK and European waters.
Bridge crews and ORCA volunteer marine mammal surveyors collected information on marine mammals in local waters while sailing offshore during a concentrated period of time. The findings have provided the conservation charity with a “comprehensive snapshot” of whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK and European waters.
Among the different species spotted were blue whales, pilot whales, common dolphins, Sowerby’s beaked whales and harbour porpoises. The second annual ORCA OceanWatch involved 13 commercial ferry, cruise and shipping companies including Brittany Ferries, Isles of Scilly Travel, Red Funnel, Saga, Swan Hellenic and WightLink.
Sally Hamilton, director of ORCA, said: “OceanWatch 2016 was a great success, with more vessels and partners involved than last year, building an even better picture of marine life in our oceans. Fourteen species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, collectively known as cetaceans, were sighted in six European sea regions, which is an outstanding result.
“Having the support of a variety of different ferry and cruise ship companies is vital so we can get an accurate snapshot of marine wildlife in our oceans as possible.”