It’s that exciting time of year again when Orcas (Killer Whales) visit the coasts of northern Scotland, and once again it will be celebrated with Orca Watch 2016, organised by SeaWatch Foundation.
Caithness is the only accessible place on mainland UK where Orcas can be seen with any regularity and given a bit of time and patience you stand an excellent chance of encountering them. There will be regular organised watches from Duncansby Head, near John O’ Groats, between 21-28th May as well as additional events around the county.
The map below illustrates your key locations during Orca Week. Turquoise binoculars represent organised watch events, red pins represent organised non-watch events, and the purple binoculars are additional Orca hotspots! Click on each icon for further information on timings or where best to look from.
A number of groups of Orca call this section of coast ‘home’ during the summer months and with the help of photo-identification it has been possible to track them from their winter grounds in Iceland, back to the UK, building up a detailed picture of social structure and movements.
A playful juvenile Orca (above) breaches past Noss Head, Caithness, last year.
For more information on all the Orca Watch events or to report a sighting of an Orca or other cetacean visit the Seawatch Foundation website here.
As well as Orcas keep a look out for other cetaceans such as Minke Whales, Risso’s, Bottlenose, Common and White-beaked Dolphins, and Harbour Porpoises. There is even the chance of a Basking Shark.