Meet Briony and Mathilde!

Categories // North Sea Wildlife Officer

Meet Briony and Mathilde!
Briony and Mathilde

Introducing our Wildlife Officers who will be on board the DFDS KING Seaways 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 Briony and Mathilde, our two Wildlife Officers who will be on board the DFDS KING Seaways this summer inspire passengers about the wildlife that can be seen in the North Sea!


‘Hello, whale and dolphin enthusiasts! I am Briony, one of your North Sea Wildlife Officers on board DFDS’ King Seaways. I have spent the last five days acquiring my sea legs and training for 2020’s Wildlife Officer season beginning in March.

I arrived at the Port of Tyne eager to meet my fellow Wildlife Officers who are covering an array of ferry routes that include the Bay of Biscay, Hebrides and the North Sea. Whilst sailing to and from Newcastle to Ijmuiden, we spent the next few days brushing up on our whale, dolphin and bird identification skills ready to spot all those cetaceans.

Coming into Ijmuiden for the second time we congregated on the deck for a deck watch, where we were lucky enough to see our first sighting of a Harbour Porpoise. The heart-pounding excitement of seeing my first cetacean on the North Sea route just fuelled my excitement for the start of the Wildlife Officer season. I can’t wait to share these moments with future passengers and I am hoping to add a minke whale or two to my list of sightings.

I have now disembarked from the Kings Seaways and I can still feel the rolling of the ship. I am keenly waiting for the next time I get to embark the Kings Seaways and see what the North Sea has in store for all of us!’


‘The adventures of a (Noth Sea) Wildlife Officer (Part I: the training)

Whalecome readers,

Back home again after an amazing week! A week in which I gained so much information that my head is now pretty full and in need to digest all the information. This last week was the training week for the ORCA wildlife officers of the 2020 season!               

First let me introduce myself, I am Mathilde and will be one of two Wildlife Officers on board the DFDS King Seaways ferry to/from North Shields (Newcastle) and IJmuiden (Amsterdam).        

The training started on Tuesday 25th of February in North Shields, however because I am from the Netherlands (IJmuiden), I came with the ferry from IJmuiden on Monday the 24th. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal on this first crossing with a wind storm, causing the North Sea to be very rough! But a refreshing walk, on land in the sun, when I arrived in North Shields on the Tuesday morning, helped me feel ready for the training. In the afternoon it was time to meet my fellow Wildlife Officers and to start the training and get an overload of information! The information covered many different subjects, from getting an introduction to ORCA, what it is like to represent ORCA and be a Wildlife Officer to marine policy and doing the deck watches. Further we got trained in how to identify whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea birds, reading the environmental factors during a survey like the sea state and swell and went through the equipment used by Wildlife Officers, like the logger on which we will log the sightings (which we will hopefully do plenty of times!), using the binoculars and the camera But besides the information on ORCA, policy, identification and equipment, we also got training into social media, like twitter and how to write a blog. We did and got all this information during two mini cruises (four crossings).

Luckily the weather had improved during the Tuesday and we were able to do two deck watches during these four crossings, one coming into North Shields and one coming into IJmuiden. Coming into North Shields we saw plenty of sea birds like the beautiful gannet, guillemot, black-backed gull and herring gulls, unfortunately no marine mammals, even though we really wished since it was also my birthday. The next day coming into IJmuiden proved more successful regarding marine mammals with a harbour porpoise sighting! I really liked the deck watches and had some interaction with passengers. Which really made me look forward to starting my first shift in the end of March. Another important thing that we did was preparing the Wildlife centre on the observation deck in the front of the ship. Having an actual Wildlife centre makes the job even more brilliant! Can’t wait to start!      

How was it to be on constantly on a ferry and get this training? Well; it was really wonderful and surreal. But I loved it! On Saturday morning it was time to say goodbye to everyone and enjoy a day in Newcastle before going back to the ferry one last (sixth) time, before I really start this adventure.

I hope I will see you when you are crossing the North Sea with King Seaways during the coming season.’