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Countdown to UK Orca Watch 2019

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With Orca Watch just days away, the staff of the Sea Watch Foundation is waiting in anticipation to start conducting watches and collect records of the orcas passing through the Pentland Firth. Three other sightings of orcas have already been reported around Caithness in the last few days including the sight of a well-known group of orcas which regularly visits, and which travel south from Iceland to Shetland, and Scotland in search of food.

At the end of May, the Pentland Firth welcomes back the charity’s annual Orca Watch event during which the North coast is visited by hundreds of whale enthusiasts, tourists and local media wanting to witness the passage of orcas close to shore.

Now in its 8th year this event originated from the collaboration between Sea Watch Foundation and their former Regional Coordinator Colin Bird. With the possibility of underwater turbines installed in the area, a decision was made to establish a seasonal watch to gather information on how orcas use this area and what might be the consequences of such an installation. The 2019 event takes place from May 17th to May 26th where people from all walks of life are invited to join the dedicated volunteers for watches throughout this time. Watches will be conducted at Duncansby Head, Caithness, the main view point, around Orkney and Shetland (times and locations can be found online at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/orca-watch-2019). There will also be volunteer observers onboard the John O’Groats ferry (connecting mainland to Orkney), collecting sightings and effort data.

More than two thousand people have contributed sightings to the Sea Watch Foundation’s National Database that currently comprises over 60,000 records, making it one of the largest and longest-running sightings schemes in the world. Scientists and volunteers do complete sightings forms for Sea Watch, recording not only the sightings they make but, where possible, also the number of hours spent watching or the distance travelled in a boat. Even when no cetaceans are seen, it is important to have a measure of effort in order to interpret sightings more effectively.

This year’s Orca Watch does also see the collaboration of the following organizations that are helping conducting watches and social events: Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), Scottish Natural HeritageJohn O’Groats FerriesPulteney People’s CentreRSPB wardens at Marwick HeadSanday Development Trust, organizers of the Orkney Nature FestivalHigh Life Highland Countryside Rangers and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

This is an open event and anyone interested is welcome to reach the organized land watches at any time during the day, but people are also free to look out for whales and collate sightings anywhere else along the coast, and of course if they see anything, Sea Watch would love to hear about it! Sightings should be reported here www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/sightingsform.

Being able to sight so many different cetacean species in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland so close to shore is something truly amazing!” says Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, Sea Watch Sightings Officer and lead organiser of this year’s event.  “What we hope for is to be able to collect sightings data involving members of the general public, helping each other while sharing skills!” continues Chiara.

Sightings are important because they give us information about where and when particular species occur, from which we can identify important areas and habitats, as well as determine changes in their status and distribution. Such knowledge helps provide better informed conservation measures”, concludes Chiara.

The north coast of Scotland is one of the best places to see whales, dolphins, porpoise and many different seabird species in the UK. As well as the orca, many other species of whale and dolphin can be seen from the shore including the common minke and humpback whale, Risso’s, common and white-beaked dolphins and the harbour porpoise. For the bird aficionados, sightings of razorbills, puffins, fulmars, great skuas, and terns are possible too. If you live locally and want to organize your own land or boat watches the recording forms can be found online at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/recording-and-submitting-sightings and please get in touch with Sea Watch if you have any questions about it.

Sea Watch Foundation is also very proud to announce an evening of orca talks on May 18th at 6:30pm, at the Pulteney People’s Centre in Wick during the Orca Watch. The opening night of talks will bring together leading investigators in the field of cetology with invited speakers providing an avenue for scientists, wildlife enthusiasts and tourists to brainstorm and create synergy across disciplines. Invited speakers include Dr Peter Evans, Director of the Sea Watch Foundation opening the night with a talk about orcas in the UK. Dr Saana Isojunno and Emily Hague from St. Andrews University will give insight into the interaction between orcas and seal in Scotland, and to conclude the night Dr Chiara G. Bertulli, Sea Watch’s Sightings Officer, will introduce the SW Sightings Network and their land-watch data collection protocol.

An Orca Watch beach clean will also be organized at Sannick Beach on May 22nd in collaboration with the Highlife Highland Countryside Rangers. A cetacean talk will be given to the kids at the Canisbay Primary School on May 24th too.

Full details of all Orca Watch events can be found here:

Sea Watch: https://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/orca-watch-2019/

Sea Watch on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/orcawatch/


Header Image: Colin Bird / Sea Watch Foundation

Poster designed by Josella Hunt

Competitions

WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag!

The Air Light Bag from Beuchat is a practical travel bag that takes up minimum storage space.

  • Material: 600 denier and 1,000 denier nylon/PVC
  • Soft roller bag, easily stored in its mesh bag
  • Internal retaining straps
  • Zip fastener with eyelets for padlocks
  • Side compartment for fins
  • Outer document pocket with coated zip and carry strap
  • Backpack style straps concealed behind the foam back-plate
  • Drainage vents
  • Red over-moulded wheels; detachable wheel block

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported that the Philippines have been recognised as the World’s Leading Dive Destination at the 27th World Travel Awards. In the article it states how many islands make up the Philippines… how many are there?

Is there:

  • A) 7,209
  • B) 7,532
  • C) 7,641

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Beuchat Air Light Bag December 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Beuchat and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 13/01/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Gear News

Quick Scuba Tips #1: How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving (Watch Video)

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How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving. Can’t I just take my new mask diving straight out of the box? Well, actually, no. It needs a little work to make it dive ready.

In this, the first in our new scuba diving quick hints and tips series, I’m going to show you how to prepare a new mask for scuba diving with three quick techniques, all aimed at stopping your scuba mask from fogging.

Yes, this link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Dive safe, dive often!

James


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