Hear about the second week aboard DFDS King Seaways by ORCA Wildlife Officer Serena.
We are now on our second week on board the DFDS King Seaways already – time is flying!
Tuesday morning was rainy and even birds weren’t very eager to show themselves. However, later that day, an engaged crowd showed up at the presentation including several children and 9 people then followed me out on deck!
One young trooper named Jesse (pictured in the middle, above) stayed with me in the cold for the whole deck watch, which lasted over an hour. Why? Whales are his favourite animals! My new wildlife assistant and bird connoisseur Rinke (pictured left) made the deck watch highly amusing with his wide knowledge of birds, England and its coastline and even Robin Hood. In the end, we saw countless birds, one grey seal and one harbour porpoise. It was a fun and educative watch with wonderful people.
Jesse was so determined to see his very first whale that on Wednesday morning he actually skipped breakfast and joined me on the Observation Deck for the entire deck watch once again! Rinke later joined us. An hour went by in which we hardly even saw any birds. But the moment we came close to the Ijmuiden port, 3 porpoise appeared! One so close to the boat that Jesse, his family who had since joined to bring him some breakfast and Rinke could all get a proper look at the smallest cetacean in our waters. In the end, their effort payed off and they were delighted to have seen a porpoise and loved the idea of being featured on our blog. Jesse’s little sister Janna didn’t want to miss out of course and posed for the picture, too!
That night, the seats for our ‘Wildlife of the North Sea’ presentation were filled with a, once again, engaged crowd, asking questions and being interested even still after the talk. In the rain and icy winds, I was joined by a wonderful lady who was part of an environmental youth group in her homeland back in the Caribbean that arranged beach clean ups and we had an interesting chat about the threats to whales and dolphins and marine litter.
Thursday evening marked the first time that people showed up for the evening lecture about threats to marine mammals! 14 concerned passengers wanted to hear what they could do to help our environment and the beautiful creatures living in it. What that was? Say no to whale meat, even if it’s just to ‘ try it once’, when talking about plastics reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse. This is extremely important since marine litter kills over 100,000 marine mammals every single year. And of course, donate to charities such as ORCA who conduct vital research to better understand cetaceans and their ecology.
To start the weekend off properly, on the cold and windy Saturday morning watch, we saw our first dolphin of the season! I’m rather sure it was a bottlenose dolphin but it only showed itself so briefly that I can’t be 100% certain. Luckily some passengers were out on deck with me and got to enjoy this wonderful experience!
A question I’ve been getting a lot this week is which, and how many ‘fish’ I usually see. The answer is ‘none’ ! The occasional shark might pop up this season but besides that, all the animals we look out for are mammals (besides the birds of course). Fish have no need of getting up to the surface, since they can breathe underwater. However, our marine mammals have to come up every once in a while. Luckily for us, otherwise it would be even harder to spot them!
Sunday morning we spotted one grey seal and later on, two harbour porpoise right at the port of Ijmuiden.
The meet and greet is one of my favourite times of day. You get to meet the passengers, get an estimate of your crowd for that evening and you get to interact with the other great crew members. I always bring along our mascot: Harry the harbour porpoise to catch people’s attention. Especially children are quick to spot him. But besides the children, the whole crew also love harry. He gets hugged, petted, taken out for a stroll or dance quite frequently but sometimes, he also get stolen or hidden. I can’t let poor harry out of my sight, but then again, who could blame them? Look how cute he is!
And now I hand over to Kelly for her first two weeks on board!
– Serena – North Sea Wildlife Officer