The Hookpod Albatross An Update On Hookpod


We spoke to our old friend Steve Hunter at Hookpod recently. As Operations Officer at Hookpod, Steve took the time to give us an update on the charity’s  achievements and developments over the last few months. Here is a round up of his report.

WCPFC approves Hookpods

Approval was finally gained at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in December 2018 for the Hookpod to be used as a standalone mitigation measure Hookpod is now approved as the ONLY stand-alone mitigation measure, operationally there is no need for night setting, streamer lines or weights when using Hookpods to dramatically reduce seabird bycatch See Hookpod website for details.

Boston Seafood Expo generates interest in Hookpod from retailers looking for seabird-safe tuna

Seafood Expo North America and Seafood Processing North America is North America’s largest seafood exhibition. Thousands of buyers and suppliers from around the world attend the annual, three-day exhibition to meet, network and do business. Attending buyers represent importers, exporters, wholesalers, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and other retail and foodservice companies. Our attendance at this event was by invitation of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), following a meeting with them in Hawaii in December. They were keen to promote the Hookpod and invited us to present to the Tuna Supply Roundtable, a group representing over 75% of the global tuna market, who meet every year, facilitated by SFP. The presentation given by Hookpod CEO Becky Ingham (see attached photo) was enthusiastically received with each delegate also receiving a demo Hookpod along with a digital information pack. As a direct result of this event, we have entered into discussions with three independent tuna purchasers regarding commercial trials of the pod, as well as a successful relationship with SFP who are actively promoting the Hookpod and working with retailers to try and establish commercial use and demand by retailers.

Exciting partnership with major US retailer

Following the above expo, presentation and relationship with SFP, a major US supermarket chain is setting up to run a demonstration project with Hookpod that could potentially lead to Hookpod-sourced tuna from their suppliers. Watch this space!

Hookpods to reduce turtle bycatch as well as seabirds

Recent work in Brazil is indicating strongly that using Hookpods can reduce sea turtle bycatch as well as seabirds. This follows a change in Hookpods so they now open at 20 metres (previously 10 metres)  beyond the depth at which turtles typically dive.

Awards and recognition for the Hookpod

Accolades were received for Hookpod designer Ben Kibel’s work with environmental engineering when he was shortlisted for the Ocean Award for Innovation, awarded by Boat International and the Blue Marine Foundation. He went onto win this category in May 2018.

Supporting New Zealand fishers

As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting New Zealand fishers seeking to virtually eliminate seabird bycatch, over the next few months we will be linking up with Hookpod suppliers in New Zealand so fishers in this vitally important country for albatrosses can receive their Hookpods securely and efficiently. Ahead of this fishers can still be assured of a maximum 12-week delivery time when ordering from

‘An introduction to Hookpod’ Youtube video

We have updated our online video to provide a clear and straightforward video to why Hookpod is needed and how it works to virtually eliminate seabird bycatch. The video is available with subtitles in a number of language and can be viewed on YouTube here.

Looking forward to 2019-20

– Sales and uptake of the Hookpod in commercial fisheries is our main aim for 2019-20 and as such work continues to develop with SFP and retailers, with the possibility of a major US retailer funding a   demonstration project in Fiji for supply of Hookpod sourced tuna.

– Interest in Hookpods in New Zealand remains high; we have achieved funding to equip 3 vessels with Hookpods and we expect positive results coming in from these long running demonstrations. We also have an order for Hookpods from the Department of Conservation to supply interested fishermen with sample devices.

– Our joint project in Brazil is set to start producing results that will hopefully demonstrate the potential for the Hookpod to become the first ever cross-taxa mitigation device for both turtles and seabirds

If you would like to help Hookpod by sponsoring a hook, click here

ORCA - UK BAsed cetacean charity ORCA – Protecting Cetaceans In The Waters Of The UK


Friend of Wildfoot Travel Brian Clasper gives us the lowdown on his charitable organisation ORCA, which aims to help protect cetaceans in UK’s waters.

With our unique take on marine conservation, ORCA is a charity that’s entirely dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in the UK and European waters.

What Does ORCA Do?

We work to identify and protect critical whale and dolphin habitats in our waters and beyond. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we help to create safer places for whales and dolphins ultimately promoting the health of our seas.

ORCA is passionate about people; in fact our work is as much about people as it is about whales and dolphins. What makes ORCA unique is our dedication to combining accessible marine education with our conservation activities allowing us to give ordinary people opportunities to take an active role in marine science and conservation.

Identifying Cetaceans

The identification of important whale and dolphin habitats is carried out by ORCA’s Marine Mammal Survey Teams, who are all volunteers. This is what makes us so unique. It’s our own volunteer teams on board ferries and cruise ships in European waters that conduct the monthly scientific surveys, recording the species we see, where they are and what they’re doing. They run talks for passengers and activities on deck, providing expert knowledge of the astonishing marine wildlife on our doorstep.

ORCA is characterised by its openness, allowing people from all walks of life to get involved, as long as they have the enthusiasm. I have had some wildlife encounters that will live forever in my memory, and I sincerely believe that ORCA’s work is a vital in spreading environmental awareness and working towards a sustainable future.Evan Landy, Volunteer Marine Mammal Surveyor

By getting members of the public to join our team, we’re not just helping to save whales and dolphins – we’re also giving people from all walks of life an opportunity to be close to these amazing animals in the wild, while collecting vital information that helps us work towards solving the problems they face.

Our aim is to enable local communities to become stewards of local whales and dolphins and the marine environment in which they live.

Why We Do What We Do

Did you know that UK and European waters are home to a third of the world’s whales, dolphin and porpoise species?

We have over 23 different species living alongside us, ranging from the tiny harbour porpoise to the shy beaked whale and the acrobatic common dolphin. All these and more have been sighted in and around UK waters. Even the largest animal to have ever lived, the blue whale, visits us from time to time.

Sadly, many of these species aren’t protected by international conventions, so their populations are being severely impacted by increasing human activity such as overfishing, pollution, destruction of their habitats and the impact of climate change.

With so many of the planet’s whales, dolphins and porpoises in our own waters, ORCA is perfectly placed to make a difference to the conservation population of these amazing animals. And we believe that conservation, like charity, starts locally.

That’s where ORCA comes in

“The importance of what ORCA does cannot be overestimated. They enthuse all who come close with a desire to know more.”
Chris Packham, ORCA Patron, TV presenter and wildlife expert

ORCA - UK Based cetacean charityWe know that the threats faced by whales and dolphins are a huge global problem that seems far too big and wide to tackle here in the UK.

But ORCA believes that the only way to protect our whales and dolphins is to identify areas where they’re vulnerable and study their habitats. That way, we can protect these places by changing the way we use them. That includes shipping, fishing, noise pollution, marine litter and more. Best of all, this information can be shared and used across the globe. And that’s the local solution to the global problem.

ORCA’s work is at the heart of this solution. With a third of the world’s whale, dolphin and porpoise species living in UK and European waters, there are huge global consequences to their lack of protection here. That’s why creating ways to protect these animals locally is a critical part of the international marine conservation movement, all working towards protecting whales and dolphins for future generations.

The UK government relies on ORCA’s crucial work to help it meet its obligations under the EU Habitats Directive (1992). This means that our work is contributing directly to the development of marine protected areas around our coastline, providing sanctuary for our whales and dolphins. Furthermore ORCA’s vital work is guiding cetacean conservation policy across the European Union enabling the creation of more safe havens for whales and dolphins in European waters. Without our involvement and our conservation partners there would be fewer safe places for whales and dolphins to live.

When it comes to influencing change across the continent, the need for ORCA and its work is at the very heart of whale and dolphin protection.

What we’ve achieved so far

  • 1. We’re helping to identify and establish marine protected areas for whales and dolphins.
  • 2. We’ve identified an area with one of the highest recorded density of the elusive and rare beaked whale in the North Atlantic, helping governments create ways to study and protect them.
  • 3. We’ve created a national network of trained marine mammal surveyors from all walks of life.

How can you help?

If you would like to support ORCA and make a donation to help sustain the work they carry out, please visit:



sea kayaking Kayaking in Antarctica

Debbie Grainger

Wildfoot Travel Expert Debbie Grainger has another trip to Antarctica fixed firmly in her sights. In preparation for her next polar expedition, Debbie decided to brush up her kayaking skills, to ensure she has the basic skills and confidence to take on any kayaking excursions offered on board. Here Debbie gives us a first hand account of her kayaking course in North Wales.

Although my trip to Antarctica is still three months away, I decided to brush up on my kayaking skills in anticipation of taking to the Antarctic seas by kayak.
I have kayaked in the Caribbean and the Med, as well as in various Welsh mountain lakes. Somehow, I think that Antarctica is going to very different from what I have already experienced.
I booked myself onto an one day ‘Improvers’ course in Anglesey, North Wales. If I had had more time, I would have booked onto the course for two or three days.

The course aimed to develop:

  1. Trip planning in tidal waters
  2. Communication – sharing the planning and developing safe team journeying practice, “enfranchising the group.”
  3. Route choice – preparing a practical understanding of the sea to enable good route choices, e.g. inshore lines vs an offshore lines
  4. Boat handling skills in sheltered to moderate water conditions
  5. Problem-solving – e.g. medical problems, rescues, assisting others
  6. I arrived at our meeting point just before our agreed time of 9am, and within a few minutes, the rest of our group plus our instructor Geth arrived. We introduced ourselves to each other and went inside the café for a cup of tea while we discussed the tidal waters, route choices and our previous experiences.

Kayaking in Anglesey

Half an hour later, we were back in our cars and driving to Porth Dafard.  According to the tidal readings, we should have a great experience of kayaking the North and South Stacks – or ‘The Stacks’ as they are referred to. The Stacks are two small islands off the North West corner of Anglesey. The sea here is renowned for being rough and wild, so you need to plan the tides and weather very carefully when making trips to this area of Anglesey.

Geth was aware that I’m off to Antarctica, so he encouraged me to tackle the choppier waters, and the swells on our way back to shore.

So, now that I’ve brushed up on my kayaking skills, I’m looking forward to my kayaking excursions in Antarctica. I hope to see more wildlife there than I did in Anglesey, as I only saw a couple of seals.

The scenery this time around was beautiful, and it helped that we had a lovely sunny day for our activity. I’m sure the landscape in Antarctica will be stunning too. I’m looking forward to kayaking near icebergs, hearing the crackling of the ice in the sea, anticipating my first whale sighting, and hopefully lots of cheeky penguins darting around our kayaks.

Planning your Antarctica Kayaking Trip

At WILDFOOT Travel, we encourage our customers to book their excursions at the time of booking. This is to save disappointment if they decide later to kayak or camp, to find out at that stage that they’re fully booked.

Did you know that we have some expeditions that include a taster of various activities including camping, kayaking, snowshoe/hiking, mountaineering, and photo workshops? You can find out more about our available Antarctica expeditions here.

The prices for kayaking in Antarctica start from around £366pp. Subject to weather conditions, the expedition team will aim to get you out as many times as possible, as other passengers will do the landings.

So, what is typically included in your kayaking trip in Antarctica?

The kayaks, paddles, Neoprene wetsuits, splash shirts and spray covers, Neoprene booties and caps, and a life-jacket/kayak vest are all included.

However, you will want to make sure you dress appropriately for your excursion in the open Polar air. So, you’ll need to bring along your own:

  • Thermal underwear bottom and top (for hygienic purposes under the wetsuit)
  • A fleece jacket or vest to wear over your thermal underwear
  • Gloves (preferably ski/snowboard/mountaineering gloves with some grip and a Gore-tex outside with Thinsulate inside).
  • A wind-and-waterproof breathable jacket or paddle anorak/jacket and trousers (e.g. Gore-tex)
  • A waterproof bag (if you’re bringing a camera)
  • Fleece hat
  • A turtle neck or neck gaiter
  • Thick socks
  • Sunglasses
  • sunscreen/sun block

Try to avoid bringing cloth clothing like t-shirts or jeans. Once it gets wet (from water or sweat), it will stay wet for a long time, and it won’t be a comfortable experience in Polar weather!

If you’re travelling as a couple or group, you don’t have to book the same excursions. If one of you wants to kayak or camp, then that’s fine. But why wouldn’t you want to experience a bit of an adventure while you’re in Antarctica? After all, it may be your only time of travelling there, and I recommend you take the opportunity of every experience while you can.

I’ll update you on my kayaking experience in Antarctica. But, if you’re planning a trip to Antarctica, take a look at our expedition cruises and Antarctica itineraries we have available.