Keep your eyes peeled for whales, dolphins and porpoises... but maybe not a shark

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DOLPHINS, whales and porpoises will all be on show in Solent waters this summer.

That is the message from marine conservation society ORCA, who are asking for support from Portsmouth residents.

Now in its third year, ORCA OceanWatch encourages bridge crews and seafarers across the UK ferry and cruise network to collect sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises during a dedicated part of the summer.

According to ORCA, the best chance to spot this wildlife would be on one of the ferries towards the Isle of Wight.

This year’s programme runs until August 6.

ORCA education coordinator Anna Bunney said: ‘ORCA OceanWatch has a huge impact across the UK ferry and cruise network with the support of our amazing partners, such as Wightlink and Red Funnel.

‘This year we want the public to get involved more than ever before.’

Steve Jones from ORCA says that there are many nuances to look out for when identifying the species you have seen.

He said: ‘I think the main differences, aside from their appearance, lies in their behaviour.

‘For example, a porpoise tends to be rather elusive. It doesn’t like to be spotted and have dark, triangular fins.

‘By contrast, a bottlenose dolphin would be much more active and playful, dancing around vessels and taking a real interest in their surroundings.’

Whether at sea or on land, the charity are asking members of the public to keep their eyes peeled and send them any sightings or pictures they capture of marine wildlife during this week.

The data will be used for ORCA’s incidental sightings database, as well as contributing to the Sea Watch Foundation’s National Whale and Dolphin Watch, a citizen science initiative that runs in parallel to ORCA OceanWatch each year.

Mr Jones says that it is really easy for people to get involved with the work ORCA do.

He explained: ‘The information we are really interested in is whereabouts you spotted a dolphin or whale.

‘Marine life across the Solent tends to be rather fluid, so we could see an abundance of marine life over the summer months.’

Mr Jones did say that the chances of finding a shark in Solent waters – after fishing journalist Graeme Pullen claimed that he had been tracking one – was rather unlikely.

He said: ‘Nothing is impossible, but I don’t quite think it is feasible.

‘For now, we are going to concentrate on whales, dolphins and porpoises.’