Mar04

Introducing Sicily and Nina!

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

Introducing Sicily and Nina!
ORCA Wildlife Officers (left to right) Kate, Briony, Nina, Mathilde, Ashleigh, Sicily, Zoe and Peter

Introducing two of our Wildlife Officers who will be on board the Brittany Ferries Cap Finistère this summer! 

Last week all our 2020 Wildlife Officer recruits joined members of the ORCA team in the North Sea for a fin filled week of training! A brilliant week was had by all, learning about ORCA's work, inspiring passengers about amazing whales and dolphins and enjoying deck watches with harbour porpoise sightings!

Meet Sicily and Nina, two of our Wildlife Officers who will be joining the Brittany Ferries Cap Finistère in March to spend the summer sailing across the Bay of Biscay!

Sicily

‘Greetings to all friends of ORCA, whether, member, staff, volunteer or passenger!

I’d like to say a warm hello to everyone and introduce myself, I’m Sicily, one of the new Wildlife Officers for the 2020 season on the Brittany Ferries Cap Finestere, sailing across the Bay of Biscay. I first heard about the Wildlife Officer programme a couple of years ago, but before that, I was a Marine Mammal Surveyor for ORCA. I was actually told about ORCA by my biology teacher at school, about 6 years ago, a fellow surveyor himself, and here we are!

We’ve had an exciting and stimulating few days in the North Sea going between Newcastle and Ijmuiden, a port near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Here all the Wildlife Officers have been undergoing training for the 2020 season. It’s been a hectic and jam-packed schedule learning everything from the foundations and business of the charity, to cetacean and bird ID and even social media and policy training.

The highlight of the course so far has been a rather icy deck watch getting familiar with ORCA’s data collection methods and looking for some whales and dolphins. We were hoping to see some of the adorable North Sea harbour porpoises, however we did observe over five species of seabird, such as gannets, guillemots, common gulls, eider ducks and cormorants. Besides the chill, everyone was full of resolutions to wear more warm field gear next time and to spot more cetaceans!

I hope to keep in contact with all my fellow Wildlife Officers throughout the season and hear about everyone’s antics on their journeys throughout European waters. We are lucky to be part of a diverse programme stretching from the Outer Hebrides to Northern Spain and I know we’re all desperate to start engaging with ferry passengers and seeing more wildlife. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to spot an elusive blue whale together in the Bay of Biscay!’

Nina

Hello, my name is Nina and I am one of the newest ORCA Wildlife Officers, bound to board the Cap Finistère next month with Brittany Ferries. This week I started my training for the opportunity of a lifetime. Myself and a team of whale and dolphin enthusiasts, my fellow Wildlife Officers, set sail to Amsterdam on a rather choppy sea.

Our training started off with a friendly ice-breaker to set the mood. We all had different species of cetaceans written on notes stuck to our foreheads and had to guess what cetacean we were. By going around the room one at a time, we had to ask a single question about our species. My first question was “Am I a dolphin?” to which everyone nodded a yes in unison. I sat back listening to the others and thought to myself, great, I know exactly which one I am. My second question was “Do I have a small dorsal fin?” to which everyone shook their heads to signal a resounding no. I then thought, this is trickier than I’d first anticipated. My penultimate question was “Do I swim with different species of dolphin?” to which I saw people looking horrified at and took that as a no. This really had me stumped. Then it finally dawned on me. I hesitantly asked my final question which was “Do I eat other dolphins...?” and all my peers nodded their heads to signal a yes. I shouted am I an Orca?! And everyone laughed. I knew this was going to be a fun trip!

The next couple of days consisted of learning about what to expect in our roles as Wildlife Officers and practical skills used to record cetacean data, and also going wild at the buffet during dinner time. We also had a deck watch this morning on our inbound journey to Newcastle where we put into practice key skills needed to record effort and sightings data. Although we didn’t see any cetaceans, we saw 5 different species of seabirds. The weather was glorious but the wind was rather a chilly one! It was a good indication of what excitement is to come whilst crossing the Bay of Biscay through March to September. Come and say hello if you are curious to know more and we can try and spot whales and dolphins together!’