WHALES, dolphins and porpoises are living right on our doorstep, but few people know much about them.
A programme is being launched by Portsmouth charity Orca aiming to open our eyes to the creatures of the deep.
Conservation officers are planning to hold workshops in schools and port-based businesses to raise awareness of these ocean-going mammals.
Orca community wildlife officer, Anna Bunney, 25, of Southsea, said the Your Seas – People and Port programme will include events, talks and training sessions.
Ms Bunney said: ‘A lot of people don’t realise that we get dolphins, whales and porpoises in the English Channel, but they are out there right off our doorstep.’
She said common species in the waters off Hampshire included harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins.
Ms Bunney said the programme followed a similar education scheme in the north of England, and that conservationists would be going into primary and secondary schools to run workshops.
‘We’re also working with local business that use the port to deliver a training programme, so that they can identify whales and porpoises and dolphins they see and be able to report them back to us.’
Orca is based at Portsmouth International Port and regularly sends wildlife officers aboard Brittany Ferries’ ships to monitor sea mammals.
Ms Bunney said the scheme would include tours of Orca’s on-board facilities and even whale and dolphin spotting excursions on the ships.
She said: ‘It will be a lot of fun and is such an exciting opportunity for our community.’
Brittany Ferries communications manager Christopher Jones said: ‘Being a maritime company we’re ever-conscious of the marine environment in which we operate, as well as the responsibilities which come with that.
‘It’s been a privilege to work with Orca.’
Ms Bunney said a highlight of the programme would be Dolphin Science Week, to take place from March 16 to 22.