CalMac Ferries have partnered with ORCA as part of the Marine Awareness Programme, and are looking forward to a wildlife packed season in 2020.
This year, for the third year running, there will be an ORCA Wildlife Officer programme running across the CalMac fleet, and we would like to welcome Ashleigh Kitchiner on board to help you learn more about the amazing wildlife found in the Hebrides. Ashleigh will be exploring the west coast of Scotland, looking out for the incredible wildlife the Hebrides has to offer and learning more about it. Ashleigh will be on hand to point out animals and answer any wildlife related questions you might have whilst travelling on the CalMac network.
ORCA is a charity that studies whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) in waters around the UK and Europe, helping to protect them for future generations. They work to give everyone who cares about whales and dolphins an active role in safeguarding their future by collecting data on marine mammals from ferries and cruise ships. ORCA have been working with CalMac Ferries since 2015, and as well as the Wildlife Officer programme the charity coordinate monthly Marine Mammal Surveys on five different CalMac routes across the Hebrides.
ORCA work on tackling some of the multitude of threats the marine environment faces, and CalMac Ferries are helping the charity collect vital data to protect the marine environment. Your Wildlife Officer, Ashleigh, will be more than happy to discuss these threats and tell you how you can help whether you are at sea or on land. As well as an array of whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals, you may also be lucky enough to see otters, eagles and even the second largest living shark, the basking shark. The waters around the Hebrides are one of the world's biggest hotspots for this species and at certain times of year they can congregate in large numbers.
When you board your CalMac ferry, please listen for the announcement advising you if your ORCA Wildlife Officer is travelling with you. If you hear it, please join Ashleigh outside on deck - you won't be able to miss her in her bright blue high visibility vest! However, if you want to find out if Ashleigh is travelling with you in advance, please read our website and follow CalMac (@CalMacFerries) and ORCA (@ORCA_web) on Twitter to keep up to date with her plans. You can also join her on a dedicated wildlife tour as a part of our Hebridean Mini-Cruises on the non-landing service from Oban to Castlebay throughout the summer months.