Isles of Scilly Travel's crew get involved with whale and dolphin conservation.

Conservation news


In January, members of the ORCA team were delighted to provide bespoke OceanWatchers training for members of Isles of Scilly Travel’s crew.

ORCA has a long history of working with Isles of Scilly Travel, with our teams of Marine Mammal Surveyors conducting surveys for whales, dolphins and porpoises on board their passenger ferry, the Scillonian III, since 2009. This wonderful ship sails the Celtic Seas from Penzance in Cornwall to St. Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly from the months of March to November each year. ORCA’s volunteer survey teams conduct two return sailings a month during this time.

However, the Isles of Scilly Travel’s freight vessel, Gry Maritha, sails these waters year-round, which provides a valuable opportunity for the crew to collect data about the wildlife that they encounter all year round and get involved with ORCA’s valuable surveying work to help us understand more about the incredible marine animals in this area.

During the interactive training course, the crew learnt how to identify the many species of whale, dolphin and porpoise sighted in the Celtic Seas, and how to interpret these sightings into collecting meaningful data, using the OceanWatchers app. We also enjoyed exchanging stories of the wonderful whale and dolphin sightings that the crew have had in the past.

We have already had a large amount of data from the crew, and are looking forward to receiving even more throughout the year. The information they collect will complement ORCA’s Marine Mammal Surveyor data to help further our understanding of the abundance and distribution of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Celtic Seas so that we can adequately protect them for the future.

Justin White is a Navigating Officer aboard the Isles of Scilly’s freight vessel, Gry Maritha:

“Thanks to ORCA, I’ve become part of their mission and recently started using their bespoke app. Within seconds of opening my first survey at sea on the ORCA app, my watchkeeping lookout alerted me to dolphins swimming towards us. From this point, I realised how easy it is to record each sighting, so you can maintain a lookout and quickly be ready for the next potential sighting. I like how my past surveys remain visible to look back at, and the list of species, including detailed descriptions, is nicely laid out. The ORCA team have created a brilliant app and allowed me, a wildlife conservation novice, to positively contribute towards the protection of whales and dolphins. Thank you, ORCA. Keep up the good work!”

We would like to extend our thanks to the whole Isles of Scilly team for their valuable contributions to ORCA’s conservation efforts.

You can also get involved in ORCA’s conservation work by taking part in the OceanWatchers programme.

The programme is designed so that everyone can collect data about whales and dolphins in a flexible way, enabling even more people to become an integral part of ORCA’s conservation work. What’s really valuable is that it provides an even greater opportunity to actively monitor important habitats. That way, ORCA can continue to inform and shape policy and help create and maintain precious protected areas in UK and European waters.

The ORCA OceanWatchers online training course, along with a bespoke app, enables everyone to collect data about whales, dolphins and porpoises. And that means anywhere that you can see the sea - whether that’s from a local beach, on holiday at the coast, scanning the seas from a cruise ship, travelling via ferry or from your own boat. More information can be found here.

You can find out more about Isles of Scilly Travel here.

Study whales and dolphins as an ORCA OceanWatcher