Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Whale and dolphin spotters wanted

a common dolphin
Image caption 23 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded in UK waters

Ferry passengers are being asked to become whale and dolphin watchers during their journeys.

Conservation charity ORCA is working with Brittany Ferries to encourage people to become spotters for them as part of a six-month long survey by the marine charity.

The idea is being supported by BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham.

He said: "It's not exactly a needle in a haystack, I've seen Cuvier's Beaked Whale from the deck of a ferry."

"We're really a long way behind when it comes to understanding the populations, whereabouts and even what species are in the sea," he said.

In addition to information from passengers, teams of volunteers will carry out marine mammal surveys on a number of ferry routes.

They will receive a day's training at Southampton's National Oceanography Centre.

Ferry routes covering the Bay of Biscay, the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the English Channel will also have wildlife officers onboard until September to help travellers look for and spot the mammals.

Sightings around the UK and European waters will be used by marine experts to help protect whale and dolphin habitats and populations.

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