A warm welcome to Alex, who has just finished his first week as a Wildlife Officer on board the DFDS KING Seaways!
Hello everyone, Alex the other North Sea wildlife officer here! What an amazing week my first one onboard has been. After meeting with Rose to catch up about her awesome first two weeks I embarked upon the KING Seaways and settled in to life on board.
While the weather has been pretty typical North Sea all week with choppy waters and cold easterly winds, I was welcomed on my first deck watch leaving Newcastle with a lone bottlenose dolphin and also shortly after a series of small splashes moving away from the ship, probably that of a small cetacean. With the rough waters it does make spotting for marine mammals quite tricky, however we can always count on the trusty sea birds of the North Sea to keep us company. A particular favorite area for spotting these birds is when we are approaching Ijmuiden port, where we have had different species of terns following the ship and also lots of different gull species. We have even been frequently spotting common seals hauled out on the artificial island in the middle of the port.
When I am not out doing deck watches, I am interacting with all the different passengers on board the ferry. For me this has been the best part of the week, being able to meet with so many people with different backgrounds and interests and stories to tell. I met a couple who had been travelling for 4 years after selling all their belongings and were going to Vancouver in search of humpback whales, a young girl who told me all about being on the news while taking part in a beach clean in her local area. On one occasion, a Dutch fisherman began chatting to me after a presentation about threats the fishing industry had to cetacean species and some of the ways that they were using video analysis on their nets to try and reduce bycatch of harbour porpoise. This shows that from whatever walk of life you have, you can connect with others over the conservation of our oceans.
Over the weekend I also had the pleasure of greeting the first ORCA survey team of the season for this route. A great bunch of people who had an excellent time aboard the KING. While the conditions were difficult, they managed to get a few sightings over the course of the weekend. The cherry on top being 6 bottlenose dolphin inside the breakwater walls as we came back into Newcastle on Sunday! Unfortunately for me I worked out I must have been just coming off survey effort and gathering my things at that point so I missed them. There’s always next time!
I’ve got my fingers crossed for the weather to improve for my second week on board, with it hopefully we get some more marine animals. I can’t wait!
ORCA Wildlife Officer - North Sea