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 Ashleigh our Wildlife Officer who will be spending the summer working across the CalMac fleet and inspiring passengers about the marine life that can be sighted around the incredible islands of the west coast of Scotland.
Are you wildlife mad? We are! We are currently in the North Sea with ORCA, training to be Wildlife Officers for the 2020 summer season. ORCA have a great number of Wildlife Officer programmes and I will be lucky enough to be based in the Hebrides and will be traversing the wild spaces of the West from March.
We all met in the Newcastle terminal, fresh faced and ready to take on the North Sea. Sailing the day before had left one officer quite under the weather but we were hopeful the sea conditions would improve for us. The first evening we enjoyed a scrumptious evening meal followed by training to understand how to be an ORCA ambassador! After an easy sail over to Ijmuiden and a bit of a lie in (8.30am!) we began training for the day, this included our favourite topic, wildlife! Anna and Emily taught us all about cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) we might see on our different routes, which intrigued us all! I know I can’t wait to see the famous Scottish population of orca or killer whale, we all seem to have our particular favourites and are looking forward to getting out to sea.
The session was followed by a bird workshop which included a quiz, this was very helpful as I feel this is an area I am constantly trying to improve. As I will be based in the Hebrides there will be a huge variety of resident and migrant birds I may see, in all different plumages and different life stages. Getting to grips with species identification, not only cetaceans will be very useful on board the CalMac ferries. If you are making your way West this summer, please look out for me on board and join me on deck to see all the amazing wildlife the Hebrides have to offer.