PROTECTING our marine wildlife is key to a sustainable ecosystem.
That was the message at the ORCA OceanWatch exhibition launch in Portsmouth International Port this morning.
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Ken Ellcome, and Lady Mayoress were there to open the exhibition, which will stand in the port terminal throughout the summer.
ORCA is a whale and dolphin conservation charity based in Portsmouth, which uses the port as a base of operations.
The city serves as an ideal gateway to the Bay of Biscay, whihc has a large whale and dolphin population.
This year marks the third year that ORCA has been working in conjunction with the port.
Port director Mike Sellers says that the relationship between the two is not only close, but mutually beneficial.
He explained: ‘We are very proud of the fact that ORCA are based here. Having a conservation charity based at the port is great – the routes that we have allow them to work very closely with companies like Brittany Ferries.
‘There are lots of sightings of whales and dolphins and it really helps them with their studies.
‘They like being here and we love having them here.’
Alex Ford, a marine biology lecturer from the University of Portsmouth, says that ORCA’s projects in the city allow university students to do research that would otherwise be restricted.
He said: ‘There’s a really nice synergy between ORCA and the university – they are actually coming in and training our students, and a lot of them volunteer for the organisation in turn.
‘We are helping them to analyse these massive banks of data they have collected, so we’re hoping to find some really interesting things together.
Staff from ORCA hope that the exhibition will draw interest from passengers coming through the terminal.
Anna Bunney, education co-ordinator at ORCA, said: ‘By having this here all summer, people who are coming through the terminal will be able to grab a coffee, then have a wander round our exhibition.
‘The port supports us in all of our work, from workshops to educational sessions for local schoolchildren about the dolphins.
‘We are truly honoured to have them support us as much as they do.’