A first-of-its-kind interactive wildlife map has been created to help ferry passengers spot birds and marine life while on deck when travelling in British and European waters. The map has been built by Discover Ferries using data from marine conservation charity ORCA, reports Wales Online.
About the map
The easy-to-use, free-to-access map shows the wildlife that can be seen in the waters around the UK and helps travellers plan trips as well as identify sightings on the go, so ferry passengers can enjoy additional onboard entertainment for free. ORCA surveyors are stationed on several UK ferry routes to survey the number of cetaceans – dolphins, whales and porpoises.
This year, between March and October, the surveyors sighted 7,398 marine mammals from ships operated by Brittany Ferries, Caledonian MacBrayne, DFDS and Isles of Scilly Travel. The findings inform government conservation policy and the protection of marine habitats. As well as monitoring the numbers and species visible from deck, the Conservationists run guided deck watches and give talks on marine ecosystems to educate and enrich passenger journeys.
The partnership with ORCA is one of the many initiatives the ferry industry undertakes to promote ocean health and biodiversity. Supporting organisations including MARINElife, Irish Whale & Dolphin Group, Ocean Conservation Trust’s Blue Meadows project, Blue Marine Foundation’s Solent Oyster Restoration Project and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.
In the 2022 season, there were almost 5,000 marine life sightings in waters to the South of England, The Western Channel to France and the Channel Islands, and the Bay of Biscay. Species including Sperm and Minke whales; Bottlenose, Common and Risso’s dolphins; Harbour porpoises and even Sunfish –the world’s heaviest fish, which hail from the Equator – were spotted. The Marine Mammal Surveyors also recorded rare sightings of Pilot whales south of Plymouth in August, and a Fin whale was spotted in the Isles of Scilly – it is highly unusual for this species, the second largest animal on the planet, to visit this area.
In the North Sea Harbour porpoises and Bottlenose, Common or White-beaked dolphins were most sighted. Surveyors also noted 102 seals and 70 Minke whales. On Scotland’s west coast, ORCA Conservationists recorded more than 600 dolphin and porpoise sightings as well as four sightings of Killer whales (Orcas).
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Source: Wales Online