Aug27

Harbour Porpoise and Minke Whales

Categories // North Sea Wildlife Officer

Harbour Porpoise and Minke Whales

Wildlife Placement Anika's time on board has sadly come to an end. Check out the exciting encouters she has experienced!

I (Anika) can’t believe my days as a Wildlife Officer Placement aboard the KING Seaways have already come to an end!

The last week has been filled with harbour porpoise sightings and flat seas. On one Newcastle night, there were so many harbour porpoise all around that we couldn’t even keep up with counting them all! All the passengers on deck were so excited, and they helped us spot and count the animals, creating a feeling of connection; all being in the same situation and able to experience this magical moment. When we finished the deck watch, Rose and I estimated we saw over 150 individuals, but a closer look at the Logger data told us it was way more. We had logged 476 porpoise and 6 Minke whales over the course of an hour and a half during that night, and we are expecting there were even more around us! We still have a hard time believing that happened, but it did, and it was crazy and amazing at the same time. Ever since this amazing night, we have had nice weather and flat seas which have allowed us to see many more porpoise and Minke whales on our crossings. Just last night a Minke whale decided to come up for a breath just beside the boat, which was announced with a blow.

This weekend we were also accompanied by an ORCA surveying team on the bridge. Meeting these enthusiastic volunteers is so inspiring. Their excitement fuels my own even more and I truly believe it is an amazing thing that they help us collecting the survey data on our cetaceans. The way they are involved with the organisation and the spotting of these animals, their passion and dedication, it shines right through! 

During my time on board the KING Seaways, I have learnt so very much, both from the placement as well as from all of the passengers I have spoken to and who can teach me even more on a wide variety of ocean related topics. This way we learned that the big ship between the wind turbines near Ijmuiden, that we had already spotted but didn’t know why it was there, was working on some sort of maintenance of the wind turbines. On our own, Rose and I might not have discovered that, but since we met a knowledgeable passenger we now know.

Just a few weeks ago I was new on the ship, but now I feel like I am fully at home here. From the crew to the job, everyone and everything has been great. I am quite sure I will miss the KING and all the memories I have made here once I am home again. On this placement, I saw my very first whale, as well as my very first dolphin. I feel safe to say that my favourite species now is the white-beaked dolphin, with its beautiful pattern and its white saddle-patch behind its dorsal fin. However, the Minke whale makes a close second as it is always a thrill to spot them.

All in all, it has been truly an amazing experience and I am so grateful for having been given this opportunity to learn about our wonderful cetaceans and to inspire so many passengers about them as well. I wish Alex and Tom all the best in their next shift and hope the nice weather will continue during their shift.

Anika, North Sea Wildlife Officer Placement 2019