The CalMac Ferries Marine Awareness Programme highlights and showcases the great work that conservation organisations in CalMac's community are working on. It provides a platform for those organisations to engage in citizen science, which will play a key role in the future of data collection and education for the conservation of our natural world. Citizen science allows members of the public to actively take part in monitoring the environment and therefore have a sense of ownership in forming the ways that we protect it. It also provides a cost-effective resource when increasing financial pressures impact upon the work of not-for-profit conversation organisations. It is vital for the preservation of many of our most beautiful and engaging species.
The CalMac Ferries Marine Awareness Programme will allow you, as a member of the public, to get involved in marine protection in a meaningful way. Last December, ORCA ran one of their citizen science training days in Oban, where interested members of the public came to be trained to become ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyors to undertake surveys for whales, dolphins and porpoises on the CalMac ferry network.
These local volunteers are part of the first wave of Marine Mammal Surveyors on CalMac vessels this season, but as the programme expands, more surveyors will be needed and more training days will take place. This is your opportunity to get involved! Keep an eye on the CalMac Ferries Marine Awareness Programme website and the ORCA website to find out when the next training courses are scheduled.
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) are developing a citizen science program that allows you to take part in seabird surveys from CalMac ferries. Experienced mentors are currently undergoing JNCC training and will take out volunteers to mentor them in seabird surveying. Keep an eye out on this website for opportunities to take part
Partners such as the Scottish Association for Marine Science run rocky shore surveys via their Co-Coast program, Whale and Dolphin Conservation run shore based cetacean watches, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust take volunteers on board their research vessel Silurian and have developed an app for you to record and submit your sightings whilst you are out and about in the region. If you would like to get involved with any of the above, contact Andy Gilbert on Hebrides@orcaweb.org.uk and he can point you in the right direction.