CalMac's 2018 ORCA Wildlife Officer Programme a Resounding Success
In February, Andy Gilbert - ORCA Wildlife Officer, was appointed by CalMac as part of the Marine Awareness Programme to undertake an extensive marine mammal monitoring and education programme around the CalMac network. Locals and visitors to the region have greatly benefited from Andy's knowledge of marine life and passion for marine conservation on board during their crossings.
As well as sharing his knowledge with passengers, Andy led and trained members of the public as citizen scientists to undertake the ORCA Marine Mammal Bridge Surveys on board three CalMac vessels on the Oban - Barra, Oban - Coll, Tiree, Colonsay and Ullapool - Stornoway routes.
Data collected on the twenty three dedicated surveys contributes to the long term monitoring of whales and dolphins along the West Coast of Scotland and will help inform policymakers to protect our seas.
There were amazing sightings of everything from dozens of harbour porpoises in the Clyde, to breaching minke whales and basking sharks in the Minch. The excitement that passengers experience when seeing a whale or dolphin is contagious.
"Once you show someone one of these beautiful animals from the deck of a CalMac ferry, their face lights up and you know that a special link has been forged between that individual and the natural world that will undoubtedly encourage them to support the protection of marine animals and their habitats in the future" said Andy.
So, whether you want to see hundreds of common dolphins on your crossings to the Outer Hebrides or simply a lone white tailed sea eagle in the Sound of Mull, this season CalMac ferries have proved to be the ideal platform from which to experience these natural wonders.
We look forward to next year's programme and wonder what fantastic wildlife will be seen and recorded by passengers and our ORCA Wildlife Officer from CalMac ferries in 2019.