Sep17

So long North Sea!

Categories // North Sea Wildlife Officer

So long North Sea!

Keep looking out to the horizon....you never know where that next amazing sighting will appear! 

So long North Sea and thanks for all the ‘fish’ …  On numerous deck watches I was asked if I had seen any fish as in Dutch it is grammatically not incorrect to refer to whales and dolphins as fish.

This was my last week aboard the KING Seaways and the North Sea did not disappoint. The days are getting shorter and shorter as we approach the autumnal equinox which meant that I got to appreciate the beautiful pink skies at both sunrise and sunset. We have had a fair bit of wind this past week which equated to some swell and white caps possibly obscuring animals as they surfaced. Saturday evening, the captain’s forecast once again predicted wind , so I was pleasantly surprised to see almost no white caps with very light swell as I started my deck watch. Thanks to the diving gannets, I spotted the first minke whale of the evening, just before it disappeared along the side of the ship. We saw two more minke whales and three dolphins that evening but it was the birds that provided the firsts for me this week.

Apart from the gannets and fulmars, the great skuas are becoming a very common sight these days. But I was very surprised to see five of them flying in unison. Normally these kleptoparasites are loners and I have never seen any species of skua together in such numbers in what appeared to be coordinated flight. I also saw my very first arctic skua. These birds with their long tails look very different to other skuas and any other bird that I expect to see in the North Sea. Though I will never tire of the beauty of the gannets we see accompanying the ship quite often, it is always great to spot the features of a species I have not seen before, especially when I am able to identify it.

This morning even before I had gotten my gear on I spotted first a harbour porpoise and shortly thereafter a minke whale as close to the ship as they could get. These are the moments I’ll cherish when thinking back on my time aboard the KING Seaways. It has been a great summer on the North Sea. The breaching minke whale definitely stands out as the highlight but there were so many happy and heart-warming moments. Spotting an animal and tracking it is a high of its own but to be able to share it with others makes it so much more special. Hearing their excitement and joy at spotting it as well always brings a smile to my face. I have met many people over the summer; each with their own story and journey but all friendly and amazingly positive, very often in the face of adversity. To all of you thank you for joining me out on deck or in the ORCA lounge and sharing your experiences with me. Remember to always keep looking out to the horizon but also close by as you never know where that next amazing sighting will appear.

Ingrid

Wildlife Officer North Sea