Wildlife in the North Sea has come to life leaving passengers and Wildlife Officers amazed by some spectacular sightings!
In last week’s blog the temperatures had dropped and winter had arrived in the North Sea but the wildlife has seemed to come to life giving us spectacular sightings. This week was no different, it was in fact even more amazing!
Tuesday morning gave us our first taster of what the week was going to bring. We had 30 harbour porpoises, a pod of white-beaked dolphins and a minke whale. In the evening leaving Newcastle we had over 100 harbour porpoises, white beaks and 4 minke whales! Not bad eh?
On Wednesday morning entering Ijmuiden we had mirror seas with just 2 grey seals and a harbour porpoise but a pair of blue herons flew past slowly and gracefully only 60 meters away giving our deck watch a lovely surprise sighting.
Thursday it all happened, as we sailed out of Newcastle the sky was pink and the sea calm. Not long had we left the harbour when we saw it, way off on the horizon, no binoculars needed. A huge feeding frenzy! As we approached there were hundreds of gannets, gulls and great skuas. Our eyes couldn’t keep up with the amount of wildlife before us. Over 100 harbour porpoises, 40 white-beaked dolphins, 150 grey seals and 22 minke whales!! All feeding and leaping for a massive bait ball. At one point it was just a sea of seal heads above the water line watching us as we watched them for as far as the eye could see. As excited as the passengers were, it was nothing on Helen and my reactions. We were ecstatic! In Fact, passengers found us as entertaining as the wildlife!
This week was ticking all the boxes for seas and sightings but there is something which always makes my week great even when we have little or no sightings and that is the passengers, especially the children. I want to dedicate this blog to all the wonderful passengers I have met so far and how their enthusiasm and inquisitive minds always make me so happy. On Friday the Grier Family were another example of this. As passengers embarked, the Grier family approached us, telling of how they always end up on the Princess (The KING’s sister ship, which doesn’t have Wildlife Officers) and they were so happy to see us and finally get a chance to learn from ORCA. In the lounge on Friday evening as they read our info and chatted with us, Mum shouted “sighting!” 4 harbour porpoises, oh how happy they were! On Saturday’s morning deck watch the whole family, 6 of them, were up since 7 am having already spotted dolphins. We ended up seeing over 100 white-beaked dolphins and 30 harbour porpoises, thanks to the kid’s keen eyes. Families like the Griers are what in my opinion make my job as an ORCA Wildlife Officer worthwhile. The excitement and delight the children and parents share is so lovely. ORCA is all about citizen science and I see these as opportunities to inspire this next generations to conserve and care for our world.
Saturday evening ended our week with 60 white-beaked dolphins and 3 minke whales passing right by the lounge windows. What an amazing week it’s been for Helen and I.
All the Best!
Wildlife Officer North Sea