Hello, my name is Craig, and this coming season I’m super excited to be starting as an Ocean Conservationist with ORCA and Caledonian Macbrayne.
I’ve spent many years getting to know the area, working on boats as a crewman and wildlife guide around the small isles before then working as a data scientist surveying all over the Hebrides with a local whale and dolphin charity. I have also worked in outreach, where I was stationed at Ardnamurchan lighthouse, talking to people about all the amazing wildlife that could be spotted from there.
I’ll be working on board between April and October, providing information to our guests about the wildlife we might encounter, what to look for and the threats they face in the area, such as underwater noise, entanglement and boat disturbance. And I’ll also be updating you on what we’ve seen. Whether you’re an experienced spotter or completely new to wildlife watching, you can join me on deck. I’ll be delivering presentations for the public as well as undergoing surveys using our OceanWatchers app and looking for some of the many exciting species we get in the area.
I’ll be working on sailings out of Oban, during which the boat will take us on an amazing route through busy cetacean habitats where strong tides, deep channels and underwater embankments create healthy feeding grounds for several species of cetaceans and other wildlife. The journey provides excellent opportunities for whale spotting, with humpback whales, orcas, minke whales, common dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and harbour porpoises, all having been reported over the last few years.
One of my favourite species to spot along the route are the minke whales which are abundant in the area over the summer months. Several individuals are very recognisable and have been returning to the area for over twenty years. My favourite of these returning locals is “Kasey”, who I first met in 2018 whilst enjoying an evening refreshment on a calm night at Ardnamurchan point. Kasey spent the night feeding around fifty metres off the coast, causing giant eruptions of small fish on the surface of the water. She was the first whale I ever managed to identify and has been spotted with several calves over the last 20 years, passing on her legacy around the sea of the Hebrides.
Each year I spend working in the Hebrides, I’m gifted with amazing sightings, and each year I get something new to add to my list (last year brought me sei whales, sunfish and bluefin tuna) as well as some of the other species that can be found in the area like sea eagles, gannets and shearwater. I look forward to spending yet another season out on the water, hopefully, filled with more weird and wonderful creatures. And telling you all about it!