This summer, P&O Ferries will once again support the work of ORCA, the whale and dolphin conservation charity by taking part in their third annual ORCA OceanWatch survey which takes place from Saturday 28th July – Sunday 5th August, 2018.
The ORCA OceanWatch survey aims to raise awareness of the fantastic marine wildlife found around our coast and support the work of ORCA in collecting data which contributes to the National Whale and Dolphin Watch in collaboration with the Sea Watch Foundation.
The P&O Ferries Captains and entire crew on board the European Highlander and European Causeway that travel between Larne and Cairnryan have been trained by ORCA on how to identify the whale, dolphin and porpoise species, collectively known as cetaceans that are likely to be encountered in the Irish Sea.
They are also trained on how to collect vital data for the project which will inform ORCA of the population levels of the cetaceans in the region as well as their range and distribution. Non-cetaceans that are spotted are also recorded including seals, sharks, tuna and large fish.
This year, P&O Ferries will also have a Wildlife Officer from ORCA travelling on-board selected sailings on Sunday 29 July to help passengers enjoy some successful spotting.
Sarah Rosier, Director of Passenger Sales for P&O Ferries said: “We are delighted to once again take part in the ORCA OceanWatch survey. We took part in the first ever survey conducted by the charity back in 2015 and have participated in it ever since.
“Our Captains and their crew are well placed to help collect the all-important data that provides a vital snapshot of the marine wildlife and populations in the Irish Sea and supports the work of ORCA in helping to protect the Irish Sea’s unique mix of fauna.
“Our crews are also trained to help any passengers sailing during the survey week to take part and record any sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises that they see while enjoying their summer crossing. We have the added support of a Wildlife Officer from ORCA on-board this year, which will add to the excitement and hopefully the numbers we can spot too.”
ORCA’s Education Coordinator, Anna Bunney, said: “P&O Ferries are wonderful supporters of ORCA OceanWatch and this year promises to be the best year with a Wildlife Officer on board. The Irish Sea is a crucial marine environment and so we are delighted to be able to do even more this year to protect it and its wildlife.”
In the 2017 ORCA OceanWatch survey, crew on P&O Ferries’ Irish Sea routes counted more than 25 animals spanning harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin and an unidentified whale.