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A marine mammal conservation initiative, supported by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, proved a huge success in its first year.

The Steam Packet Company was one of 13 ferry, cruise, freight and naval organisations which assisted the inaugural ORCA OceanWatch by welcoming volunteers on board to conduct surveys during sailings.

In July and August, volunteer marine mammal surveyors travelled on Ben-My-Chree to record sightings of marine mammals as they sailed across the Irish Sea between Douglas and Heysham. 

The team enjoyed excellent weather conditions for surveying and spotted a minke whale and a grey seal during one crossing.

ORCA Community Wildlife Officer Anna Bunney said: ‘ORCA OceanWatch 2015 was a fantastic success; 16 different whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) were sighted in seven European sea regions, which is an outstanding result. This provided ORCA with a snapshot of the cetaceans that can be sighted right on our doorstep, as well as highlighting the need for their conservation.

‘We’d like to thank the Steam Packet Company for its participation and support in the inaugural year of ORCA OceanWatch. We’re all extremely excited for ORCA OceanWatch 2016.’

Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘We have supported surveys of marine life in the Irish Sea for many years, and were pleased to play our part in the ORCA OceanWatch initiative.

‘Protection of our marine environment is vital, and conducting regular surveys like these provide important information to help conserve and protect marine mammals.’

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