The North Sea showed her might for Sunitas last week on board DFDS KING Seaways!
On my final week here in the North Sea I finally felt her might during a 3 days storm. Thus far on all my shifts I have been very lucky and have had amazing weather with calm seas, hence my sightings have been often and rich.
My Monday started great with two minke whales close to the ship. But on Tuesday the North Sea showed me a taste of her powerful winter storms. All through Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning the swell threw the huge KING Seaways around like a rubber duck. The gale force winds meant the observation deck was closed for safety reasons and when it was opened on Friday morning the gale winds were still strong enough to knock myself and every passenger who stepped foot on the deck right against the walls. Luckily my sea legs seemed to have come naturally to me so that was one positive thing. For 4 whole days I had no sightings even though I tried, the 3.5 meter swells just made it too hard.
Friday evening the wind finally stopped, the sea calmed and out of the rain came the most vivid perfectly spherical double rainbow! What a lovely sight after the last few days. That night was followed by a beautifully clear full moon, something which I have loved as part of this job. The amazing sunrises, sunsets and full moons never get old and each is different. On nights like this one the moon is so clear and big. Often I used my marine binoculars to peer at the craters and imperfections on its surface, getting an unbelievably close look. I took rainbows and a full moon as a good omens.
They were, but not as I expected. I wasn’t greeted with marine mammals but hundreds of sooty shear waters and great skuas on Saturday and Sunday. In fact all the bird species came out over these last two days in huge numbers, including my faithful friends the Northern Gannets. It was something I’d never seen before and I took it as the birds giving me a bye bye as they knew I had spent many a lull moment between cetacean sightings watching and admiring the birds of the North Sea.
Not only will I miss the view, weather events, birds and cetaceans but most of all I’ll miss the people. From the passionate passengers who spent many an hour telling me stories of their own amazing wildlife encounters to helping the first time enthusiast spot their first cetacean and watching their joyful reactions. The greatest thing I have taken from my time as a Wildlife Officer is that I am not alone on my fight for the environment, there is more of a fight than I was aware of within the public domain. Everyday people are becoming more and more aware of plight of our natural world and they aren’t just sitting on it. I met so many passengers who are active in their local environmental groups and trying to make a difference and to me that is the most important thing. We must continue raising awareness and protecting critical habitats, not just for whales and dolphins but for all animals including ourselves.
So that’s it folks. A huge thank you to all the lovely passengers I encountered, to the KING Seaways crew and to the Captain. You were all more than helpful and friendly! Thanks for supporting ORCA.
Wildlife Officer North Sea