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Tips for spotting wildlife when travelling by ferry

Unlike a plane or a train, ferries allow you to roam free whilst on board, giving you a chance to take in the sights and hopefully spot some wonderful wildlife along the way.

Discover Ferries “take your passion with you” campaign launches this weekend, to coincide National Ferry Fortnight, and is actively encouraging passengers to look out for wildlife when travelling.

In addition ORCA, the marine conservation charity, will be running OceanWatch from 28 July to 5 August, an initiative encouraging people to travel at sea and record sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Now in its fourth year, the project aims to both protect and raise awareness of the UK and Europe’s whale and dolphin populations and will give a snapshot of the incredibly diverse wildlife that can be found in our waters.

To help make the most of your time on board, Discover Ferries asked Lucy Babey, head of science and conservation at marine life conservation charity ORCA, for her top wildlife-watching tips:

    1. Plan in advance – Any time you are heading out to sea, make sure you do some research in advance to get an idea of what animals might be seen. It will help you identify which species you are seeing, as well as giving you a clue as to where you might spot different species and what to look out for. Be sure to keep an eye on the time of year as well – many species migrate thousands of miles and there’s nothing worse than finding out your favourite animal headed to the Arctic the week before you arrived!
    2. Pick your crossing – Some routes take a very different path even if they are heading to the same destination, and so the wildlife can vary dramatically. Where possible, trips that have a lot of daytime sailing will be an obvious choice, but if you are on longer crossings try and select trips where you can be on deck at first light – it’s often one of the best times of day to see many species.
    3. Make sure you have everything you need – Binoculars are also advisable – on larger ferries the horizon can be many miles away so there’s a limit to what you will see with the naked eye. For keen photographers, a telephoto lens (something in the 200mm-300mm range) will maximise your chance of capturing that perfect shot.
    4. Work as a team – The more eyes you have on the water, the more chance you have of spotting something. Roping in your travelling companions is a must, but also remember that many wildlife enthusiasts love to travel on ferries across the UK throughout the year. If you see other passengers with binoculars or cameras, why not strike up a conversation and see if you can work together to maximise your chance of spotting some of the more elusive animals?
    5. Perseverance is key – It may sound obvious, but the more time you spend watching out for wildlife, the more animals you are going to see. Everyone who has spent time at sea has seen disappointed passengers come up on deck late morning only to find out they missed an amazing killer whale encounter or a sighting of a rare bird, so make sure you aren’t one of those people and put the hours in. It will pay off in the long run!

To find out more about ORCA and its OceanWatch initiative, visit www.orcaweb.org.uk

For more information about travelling by ferry, visit www.discoverferries.com

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