Thousands of passengers are discovering this month that a ferry journey from Portsmouth really can take you to see magnificent marine mammals as a summer holiday bonus.
Many have been helping wildlife officers from Portsmouth based charity ORCA spot whales, dolphins and porpoises as part of OceanWatch Week. The conservation group says it has got off to a fantastic start after being launched at Portsmouth International Port last month, with everyone looking forward to seeing the initial findings later in August.
Crews sailing to and from Portsmouth and other UK ports at the beginning of August have been recording sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises .The data is being used by ORCA to compile a third annual survey of current habitats for cetaceans (the group name given to the marine mammals).
The survey also helps raise awareness of marine conservation issues for staff working in the industry, and allows them to actively contribute towards the protection of our seas. ORCA has offered the Portsmouth based crews special training in order to recognise the different species.
Brittany Ferries, which is based at Portsmouth International Port, has been a key supporter of the charity for the last decade. Its routes to Northern Spain sail through the Bay of Biscay, one of the most important areas of sea in the world for whales. Passengers have recently seen Fin Whales from the decks of the ferry, the second largest creature on the planet.
Also this month, television wildlife expert Nigel Marven will be a special guest onboard a sell-out Brittany Ferries whale watching mini cruise from Portsmouth International Port. Leaving on 15 August, Nigel will explain more about the whales, dolphins and porpoises that passengers will see on their journey to Spain
You can see the launch event on youtube here.