In July, I spent 17-nights aboard Saga Sapphire as she cruised the Mediterranean, it was a wonderful cruise, visiting ports of call both old and new, but it was also enhanced by the fact that we had a team from ORCA onboard that were conducting a marine and mammal survey.
I am a huge lover of all creatures and I thought it was absolutely brilliant that ORCA could come aboard and conduct their research, research that is vitally important and that ultimately helps to protect our marine life. Passengers could also enjoy whale and dolphin spotting with the ORCA team every sea day out on the open decks.
So, before I get right into my blog, let me tell you more about ORCA. Formed in 2000, ORCA is entirely dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in the UK and European waters. They work to identify vulnerable whale and dolphin populations, help protect threatened whale and dolphin habitats and prevent large whales from being hit by ships. Together with governments, research institutions and other conservation charities, ORCA’s aim is to create safer places for whales and dolphins.
The team held talks throughout the cruise and were more than happy to answer any and all questions that people had, in fact, their presence onboard made the sighting of a whale or dolphin that much more exciting because it could instantly be identified and discussed. It was also nice to learn about the work ORCA do when not conducting marine surveys at sea, for example one of the things they are actively involved in is raising crew awareness of ship strikes. They also take note of any discarded fishing gear that they come across whilst at sea and I have to admit that we passed a LOT of ghost gear on our cruise. These nets are just left to drift around our oceans and they are a massive danger to our marine life. I also learned that 640,000 tons of rubbish is dumped into the sea every year! Imagine what kind of impact that has on our ocean friends!
The biggest threats to our marine wildlife are: over fishing, ghost gear (abandoned fishing gear), ship strikes, climate change, whaling and pollution. We can each do something to help reduce all of these issues by making a small donation to ORCA, joining the ORCA team and helping to create awareness and conduct surveys, becoming an ORCA member and even fundraising.
As I said, the team were onboard to conduct a survey and make note of their sightings. Below is everything that was spotted during our cruise – incredible, right?!
Harbour porpoise – 8 | Bottlenose dolphin – 171 | Common dolphin – 1149 | Striped dolphin – 422 adults, 9 calves | Mixed striped and common dolphin pod – 220 | Risso’s dolphin – 16 adults, 2 calves | Blue whale – 1 | Fin whale – 21 | Unidentified dolphin – 446 | Sperm whale – 6 | Unidentified whale – 31 | Pilot whale – 48 | Cuvier’s beaked whale – 2 | Shark – 1 | Loggerhead turtle – 1 | Flying fish – 1 | Sunfish – 1 | Flamingos – 12 | Tuna fish – 30
Obviously, I didn’t see all of the above myself, but I did see the Sunfish, which I didn’t even know existed! I also had the pleasure of seeing hundreds of Common Dolphin, a few Striped Dolphin and the back of a whale.
ORCA rely on donations from the kind general public in order to carry out their research and buy necessary equipment and any donation, however big or small, is greatly received. If you can spare a pound or two then please click here.
Many thanks to ORCA for the information and some of the images used in my blog today – all of the images were taken during the 17-night Saga Sapphire cruise.