Would you believe us if we told you there was a very good chance of spotting a dolphin, porpoise or even a whale from the decks of Scillonian III?

In fact, the chances are so good, the crossing between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly has been named the UK’s highest diversity ferry route for wildlife spotting by charity ORCA.

It’s an accolade we’re hugely proud of.

Passengers and crew regularly spot all sorts of wildlife – in fact, it’s a daily occurrence.


When former Master Pete Crawford retired after 39 seasons earlier this year, he cited the wildlife he’d seen over the years as some of his favourite memories.

He recalled seeing humpback whales breeching off Land’s End; a pod of killer whales; many, many fin whales; minke whales, dolphins and tuna regularly.

Pete remembers almost guaranteeing sightings of giant groups of basking sharks on sailings from June onwards.



This year, the charity ORCA, which is dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK waters, completed another year of vital cetacean monitoring surveys on board Scillonian III.

The charity’s highly-trained marine mammal surveyors conducted 13 surveys from Scillonian III in 2022.

The highlight of the season was a fin whale – the second largest animal on the planet at 27m long – during a survey in June.


Between March and October there were a total of 95 sightings, totalling an impressive 366 animals.

The most common sighting was of common dolphins, with 299 animals spotted. Six species of cetacean were spotted, along with grey seals, sunfish and a basking shark.

Marine mammals have been recorded every month of surveying, but there is a peak in sightings between July and September due to the warmer waters.

The charity tries to replicate the same survey dates each year to ensure the data is comparable and now has a highly valuable dataset collected onboard.


So, the next time you’re on board Scillonian III, you’d be forgiven for thinking of it as more of a wildlife cruise than a ferry journey!


Take a listen to the BBC Sounds radio interview with Anna Bunney, from ORCA, about the wildlife surveying on board.