Cruise News

UK wildlife team spot critically endangered whale from Saga cruise ship

A team of volunteers from a UK-based marine conservation charity has caught a glimpse of one of the rarest animals on the planet, the North Atlantic Right Whale, during a survey in Canada on cruise ship Saga Sapphire.

The species is among the most endangered on the planet, with the global population estimated to be less than 500. Canada is one of the last places in the world where they are seen, but even in this region sightings are scarce.

North Atlantic Right Whale
North Atlantic Right Whales are among the rarest animals on the planet

ORCA, based in Portsmouth and whose network of volunteers collect data about whales and dolphins, have a team of volunteers on the “Canada in the Fall” cruise aboard Saga Sapphire.

The group have been on board since the ship left the UK on 15 September to collect sightings of marine wildlife in an area of the world renowned for its rich natural beauty. The trip is one of many ORCA have run in partnership with Saga Cruises over more than ten years of working together.

However, despite having seen hundreds of whales and dolphins already on this trip, the team couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted the North Atlantic Right Whale on the morning of Saturday 7 October.

ORCA director Sally Hamilton said: “This is a first for ORCA, and it is incredible to think that our dedicated volunteers have managed to catch sight of something that is so rare. The North Atlantic right whale is on the brink of extinction, so any sightings that can shed light on their movements could help to protect the last remaining members of this species.”

North Atlantic Right Whales reach up to 45ft long, and can weigh up to 70,000kg. They are baleen whales, which mean they use long strips of keratin to filter seawater and collect krill and other invertebrates.

2017 has been a devastating year for the species, with the loss of 12 animals in the last nine months, which represents two per cent of the global population.

Master of the Saga Sapphire, Captain Burgess said: “A speed restriction of less than 10 knots had been imposed to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale and we’re delighted that ORCA spotted one of these rare species. We’re always keen to support the work that ORCA do and have many cruises planned for 2018 with wildlife teams on board”.

The cruise had already been a record breaking trip, with seventeen different species spotted during surveys and excursions on the trip. In total, 179 whales, 379 dolphins and 27 porpoises have been spotted in 23 days on board.

Posted on 11th October 2017 at 10:51 am in Cruise News | Cruise Lines | Saga Cruises |

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