ORCA was formed in 2001, devoting time to studying sea life and protecting it for future generations. In 2006 Saga and ORCA started their Wildlife partnership, with members of their team spending time on board Saga ships, particularly where the itinerary and locations are perfect for spotting an abundance of marine mammals. Now, a decade on, ORCA are reporting record sightings of wildlife from Saga’s cruise ships, Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II.
In 2015, ORCA Wildlife Guide Teams were present on 6 Saga cruises sailing to Norway, the Arctic Circle, Iceland, and Mediterranean and traversing the Atlantic to Canada. ORCA Wildlife Guides on board spotted an amazing 5,866 marine mammals – showcasing these beautiful creatures to the passengers on board.
This included an incredible 19 different cetacean species (the collective term for whales, dolphins and porpoises), along with various seal, turtle, shark and fish species.
Marine wildlife highlights include:
- A pod of 128 long-finned pilot whales including 25 calves seen in Norway in March 2015
- A blue whale, the largest animal that has ever existed on earth, seen off the cost of Portugal in July 2015
- Rare and illusive True’s beaked whales sighted when crossing the Atlantic on the way to Canada in October 2015
- 20 orca and killer whales seen in one day in Iceland – all showing themselves very clearly and close to the ship giving passengers some wonderful and memorable sightings
- Juvenile humpback whale seen when leaving Dover in March 2015 – a very unusual sighting!
- An incredible 1,270 individual animals seen in one day on a Mediterranean cruise in July 2015
Since ORCA and Saga began their partnership an incredible 20, 196 cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) have been recorded. Of all marine life (including seals, turtles, and some shark species) 20,834 animals have been recorded.
When ORCA Wildlife Guides are on board Saga cruises, passengers can look forward to deck watches, a programme of talks and optional wildlife excursions, to get up close to many of these amazing animals.
In 2016 ORCA Wildlife Guides will be present on 11 Saga cruises, with a further 11 cruises confirmed for 2017 including:
- Anniversary Cruise – 20 May 2017
- The Faroes and Land of Ice and Fire – 18 June 2017
- Canada in the Fall – 15 September 2017
Saga Pearl II
- Northern Lights Adventure – 28 February 2017
- Azores and Canaries in Spring – 22 March 2017
- North Cape Adventurer – 28 May 2017
- A Med Trio – 12 June 2017
- Icelandic Explorer – 30 June 2017
- Summertime in the Fjords – 28 July 2017
- A Spanish Sojourn – 20 August 2017
- Contrast of the Canaries and Cape Verde – 1 November 2017
During my cruise last summer aboard Saga Sapphire, the ORCA team were onboard and it really added a wonderful depth to the voyage. It was nice to stand out on deck and know that if you spotted something, it could be more or less instantly identified. It was also incredibly interesting to learn more about ORCA and how their research is vital in maintaining the safety of our marine life. You can read more about it in my ORCA blog.