8th June, 2023
World Ocean Day with ORCA
We’re proud to play our part in marine conservation by partnering with ORCA: the marine wildlife conservation charity who play such a vital role in studying and ensuring the protection of our marine life.
How Saga’s boutique cruise ships help
Whilst we know huge amounts about ecosystems on land, there are parts of our marine environment that are still completely unstudied by scientists. Chartering boats to undertake extensive surveys in remote parts of our oceans would be prohibitively expensive for a charity such as ORCA. But in the space of the last fifteen years, they have been able to survey and record marine wildlife in a way that would never have been possible before.
Because, of course, we welcome them to join us aboard our cruise ships!
Accurate, intensive research
Every year, ORCA chooses the Saga itineraries that cover the areas they want to study. Then four of their volunteer Marine Mammal Surveyors join us on board.
The team consists of a Team Leader, a Wildlife Officer and two Wildlife Guides. Having the chance to work together like this means that they’re able to collect data at a very high level; gaining valuable insights about the whale, dolphin and porpoise populations all over the world and identifying the areas where they’re vulnerable. That data is put to the best possible use.
The team monitor populations and the way they’re distributed (whales and dolphins are highly mobile, migratory species), then report those trends back to the policy-makers. This helps keep global policy such as the IUCN’s Important Marine Mammal Area designation up to date, ensuring that the right areas of the ocean are being protected.
Welcome guests, amazing sights
We’re always delighted to welcome the ORCA team onboard. They provide a tremendous highlight for everyone lucky enough to share one of their cruises. You’ll find them on deck, ready to help you spot and identify wildlife on at sea (we’ll provide the binoculars). Over the years, we’ve sighted tens of thousands of animals together – orcas, belugas, humpback whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales, as well as all kinds of other marine life and 160 different species of birds.
Of course, every cruise is different and anything could be seen at any time. For example, in 2021 over 3,000 individual animals were sighted on just a handful of cruises. Highlights included sightings of over 1,800 acrobatic common dolphins and 32 fin whales – the second largest animal on the planet, growing up to 27m long! On one of our cruises, a walrus was even seen on the Isles of Scilly.
Your chance to get involved
This is a once-in-a-lifetime, truly enriching opportunity to learn more about the wonders of our oceans from the experts. The ORCA team run onboard workshops for guests, give talks and presentations, and post daily wildlife blogs on the onboard TV screens. When appropriate, they’ll join special wildlife excursions ashore. You can enjoy deck watches with them, helping spot animals, identify species and learn more about them. You also have the chance to spend time as a volunteer, helping to collect data.
Proud partners since 2007
The long-standing partnership between ORCA and Saga has opened up the oceans for us. It is incredible to have the platform of a cruise ship from which to study and record marine life in such a diversity of places. As a result, we are gaining insights into whale and dolphin numbers and distribution globally that are informing global policy and filling in massive gaps in our knowledge about these under-studied animals.
Lucy Babey. Head of Science and Conservation. Deputy Director, ORCA.
The ocean feeds billions of people and provides 80% of the world’s biodiversity – but it faces so many threats. By supporting ORCA’s work, we believe that we can play our part in safeguarding it for the future.
What began in 2007 as a request from marine conservationists to accompany our boutique cruises, has become a valued and respected means of obtaining scientific data.
We are very proud to be partners with ORCA.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.
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