“Are there whales in the North Sea?” The questions from many passengers were certainly answered.
A question I commonly get asked is “are there actually whales in the North Sea? to which I reply “of course there are!”. Now some days passengers just have to take my word for it but on others, the North Sea wants to answer the question for me. On Sunday morning a couple asked me the question and were intrigued enough by my answer to join me for an hour on my morning deck watch towards Newcastle. As we drew closer I began to think my word would have cut it for today when suddenly there was a huge splash in the distance. It took me by surprise as much as it did all the other passengers on the observation deck with me at the time.
As it breached again the tell-tale white bands on its pectoral fins gave it away, we had a Minke whale. The crowd on the deck got to witness several more breaches and splashes before it passed from view. I quickly mustered a cohort of us to rush around to the port facing side of the ship, where we got to see it continue breaching away into the distance.The North Sea managed to answer a lot of peoples questions that morning.
The Minke whales that we see in the North Sea at this time of year are thought to be migrating up towards their feeding grounds in the Arctic, after a winter of breeding in the Atlantic Ocean. While the opportunity of a good feed is too good to miss, they unfortunately don’t know about some of the threats that lie in the waters they are heading towards. Some countries around the globe still practice whaling, including nations such as Iceland and Norway where these whales are heading. In the news recently there has been an outcry at the decision for Japan to leave the IWC and after its six month wait has now resumed commercial whaling. Many cetaceans are endangered due to historic whaling and therefore it is our global responsibility to protect them. In order to appropriately protect cetaceans we need to have an understanding of where these animals frequent - one of reasons the work of organisations such as ORCA is so important today.
Tune in next week to find out what is occurring on the North Sea in my next blog.