May29

A constantly changing environment

Categories // North Sea Wildlife Officer

A constantly changing environment

The weather’s improved and sightings in the North Sea are on the up, with many passengers sharing these magical moments

Hello again from sunny Ijmuiden! My week back on board the DFDS KING Seaways has absolutely flown by I can’t believe I am already halfway through my third shift.

As the ship is a constantly changing environment, after two weeks away I felt like I was arriving for the first time again as I stepped on board to a sea of new faces. New friends leave for some time at home just as I’m getting to know them, and new ones arrive to tell me even more seafaring stories of whale sharks in the Philippines, or orcas hunting dolphins off the coast of Africa. The weather too has changed dramatically – whereas for the majority of my last shift it was extremely bumpy, this week the sea has been much calmer with sunshine and rain in equal measure. And of course every day I meet new passengers, from a group of students from the Czech Republic who were at sea for the first time in their lives, to German truck drivers who are on first name terms with the staff as they cross so often, there is always a new person to talk to about ORCA's work here in the North Sea.

And this week it has been particularly easy because, partly in thanks to the improved weather, sightings have been on the up! Occasionally I wonder if some of my passengers don’t really believe me – surely there aren’t beautiful magical dolphins in this cold expanse of grey?! And so when we do finally catch a glimpse of a dorsal fin, or a long back slowly rolling through the waves the effect is pure magic;

“Did you see that?! Did you see it?” “Where?!” “I saw it! It’s a dolphin!” “Look, look, there’s three!”

The barriers break down and strangers help each other to catch a glimpse, pointing out to sea and talking excitedly to each other, sometimes in their own languages, sometimes in shared English. Once the animals have gone, the spell lingers and people want to share their stories of other sightings, or the fact that they have never seen something like this before. People recommend other areas to visit to get another chance of an encounter, and we all stare back out to sea with enthusiasm, hoping to see something else.

This is the effect of catching a just a tiny glimpse of life in the wild seas, and ORCA hope to make these life changing encounters accessible to all, and not something that is exclusively the domain of scientists and sailors. ORCA has a unique work force of citizen scientists – ordinary people making a difference in the fight for marine protection, and a focus on bringing the wonders of cetacean life to people from all walks of life to make it known that there IS life worth protecting. Yet again, this week has just shown me how grateful I am that charities like ORCA exist, and that I have a chance to be part of it – just as you do.

I look forward to checking in with you again next week!

Rose

ORCA Wildlife Officer – North Sea