The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has renewed its partnership with a leading whale and dolphin charity which will conduct surveys of marine life in the Irish Sea.
ORCA is one of the UK’s leading charities dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoise in UK, European and adjoining waters. It monitors whale and dolphin populations and helps protect vulnerable habitats.
Volunteer marine mammal surveyors will travel on Steam Packet Company vessel Ben-my-Chree in the coming months to survey the sea and record any marine life they spot. The Steam Packet Company has worked with ORCA before, most recently between 2011 and 2013.
The first survey, on 29th July, will be part of ORCA OceanWatch, a British Isles-wide initiative which will see volunteers carry out surveys on many vessels in waters around Britain. As well as the Steam Packet Company, the Royal Navy and other ferry, cruise and cargo vessels are taking part in OceanWatch, which runs until 2nd August.
The aim is to collect as much data as possible over the week to create a snapshot of the activity of cetacean (the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Manx, UK, European and adjoining waters.
Volunteers also intend to carry out surveys from Ben-my-Chree on 12th August and 23rd September. It is hoped the partnership will lead to further surveys in the Irish Sea.
UK Director of ORCA Sally Hamilton said: ‘OceanWatch is a fantastic way for the public and local businesses and organisations who use the sea to get actively involved in marine conservation.
‘We are very pleased to be renewing our partnership with the Steam Packet Company for the OceanWatch week, as well as for more surveys later in the year. The Company’s support allows us to gather data which is vital to understanding and interpreting marine life to ensure we are better able to protect it and its habitat.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘The collection of data through surveys like those being conducted by ORCA from Ben-my-Chree is vital to our understanding of our marine environment, and helping to protect it.
‘We have previously supported initiatives to monitor marine life in the Irish Sea, with groups like ORCA and Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch carrying out surveys from our vessels, and we look forward to welcoming ORCA’s surveyors on board as they conduct more of this vital work.’
For more information about ORCA OceanWatch visit www.orcaweb.org.uk/get-involved/oceanwatch
Map showing sightings recorded during ORCA surveys on Isle of Man Steam Packet Company vessels between 2011 and 2013