Our Impact

ORCA's work is diverse, authoritative and impactful

At its heart, is the evidence and data we collect, giving us the ability to make insightful and expert arguments and recommendations.

The survey data that we have collected over the last three decades has led to better protection for whales and dolphins in ocean hotspots.

Our knowledge and understanding of cetacean conservation issues means that ORCA’s experts are actively involved in high-level global forums to safeguard marine mammals and their habitat.

Saving large whales from ship strike

Understanding the ship strike threat and finding ways to prevent it is of paramount importance to ORCA.

Through our relationships across the shipping sector and our work now spanning the globe, ORCA is in a unique position to help raise awareness of the issue, and also mitigate the impacts of shipping activity on cetaceans.

We are working in partnership with cruise ships, ferries and commercial freight shipping to find ways to deal with this increasing problem.

The sightings data we so carefully and methodically collect is never allowed to gather dust

It’s our strongest argument for tougher measures to protect whales and dolphins. We need it to work for them and to do justice to everyone who has contributed to it.

Our annual State of Cetaceans report (SOC) is a respected and authoritative snapshot of whale and dolphin populations, compiled from tens of thousands of kilometres of survey effort collected by our volunteer Marine Mammal Surveyor workforce and in-house Ocean Conservationists. The global sea regions surveyed include the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Southern Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. In June 2023, we’ll publish our 6th State of Cetaceans report, which for the first time, includes the data from our OceanWatchers programme.

The State of Cetaceans

Influencing change worldwide

The effort that goes into our survey work is not a means to an end.

We need our data to work hard safeguarding the interests of whales and dolphins. That means using it to influence policy and effect positive change worldwide.

Far away from the decks of ships, where our survey efforts are being so carefully recorded and logged, ORCA can be found at some of the most important whale and dolphin conservation forums globally. We give authoritative voice to the data and use it to argue for change and protection where it is needed.

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ORCA and Whaling Nations

A common question is why ORCA continue to visit whaling nations through our programmes, and why the charity does not encourage the companies we work with to stop visiting these destinations. Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, the Caribbean, the USA and Japan are some of the destinations visited by ORCA where hunting still takes place, and as a conservation charity we have thought very carefully about the way we can make the biggest impact in terms of protecting whales and dolphins in these areas.

There are a number of reasons ORCA continue to visit these areas:

Monitoring Vulnerable Populations

Whaling activity has a significant impact on populations that are hunted, but often the activity takes place in areas that are not regularly monitored so understanding the impact on the animals in these areas is difficult. ORCA collects data during their sailings in these areas, and this data is analysed along with the rest of our historic dataset to identify trends and changes.

Raising Public Awareness

Hunting activity will continue in whaling nations, regardless of whether ORCA visit these areas or not. The difference is that, by sending our teams to these destinations, we raise public awareness of the hunts that are happening and shine a light on the activity. This gives us the opportunity to continue to apply pressure to these nations to end their hunting activity and keep whaling in the forefront of the public's mind. By doing this we hope that, over time, whaling activity will end as these nations realise that positive interactions with cetaceans can be far more valuable than hunting and killing them.

Education on Board

Tourists visiting whaling nations have a profound role to play in helping to continue the decline of whaling activity. With local demand in many whaling nations decreasing, sales of whale products to tourists have become increasingly important in propping up commercial whaling activity, as well as offering subsistence hunts a path towards commercialisation through selling meat to tourists. ORCA teams onboard cruise ships visiting these destinations can educate guests about the impact of the choices they make when they are onshore, and help to reduce demand for whale meat to ultimately remove an important commercial driver of whaling activity.

Commercial Pressure

The companies we work with choose to partner with ORCA because they want to help protect whales and dolphins and believe in our work. By working with these companies and supporting them during their visits to these destinations, ORCA can also help them to apply pressure to the authorities in these destinations to make changes and give a different voice to anti-whaling activity. Many of these brands make a big contribution to local economies in whaling areas, and by continuing to visit they can engage in dialogue with local communities and governments to apply pressure. By boycotting an area, they have no more leverage and so their influence reduces to zero. Visiting whaling nations enables these companies to have the chance to exert pressure and have an impact. We value these partnerships and believe them to be a powerful way of making the arguments for ending whale and dolphin hunts.