The summer holidays have started in the North Sea with some exciting encounters and kids showing off their creative talents!
This week on the North Sea started with some great encounters with minke whales on the Newcastle side of the crossing, including Thursday morning where lovely conditions allowed sightings of 4 different minkes within half an hour!
There is also quite a lot of bird activity at the moment, particularly from the feeding gannets. Watching large numbers of these birds diving down into the water, being able to reach speeds of up to 60mph, is a spectacular sight. While looking for cetaceans it is useful to watch these feeding birds as sometimes cetaceans might be feeding in these areas as well. This was proven on Monday evening when just after we had finished the quiz in the Wildlife Centre a couple of dolphins popped up just in front of the ship. This led myself and a few passengers to conduct an impromptu late deck watch to see if there was anything more around. While passing one large group of diving gannets as the ship got closer suddenly a bunch of harbour porpoise began to pop up all around the diving birds before skimming away from the ship.
As more schools are breaking up around Europe the number of families and children visiting the wildlife centre are growing, showing off some of their creative talents with colouring and drawings. The knowledge these youngsters have about whales and dolphins is also incredible, whether it’s a flurry of hands going up to answer questions like “What is the biggest whale in the world?” or just simple knowing nods of agreement as I announce that killer whales are in fact dolphins and the biggest dolphins we get on our planet. One thing that normally catches them out, especially the dinosaur obsessed, is telling them that a blue whale is actually way bigger than the megalodon ever was. It’s great to hear their stories about the whales or dolphins they have seen in the past or just some of the initiatives they take at home such as picking up litter at the beach. I have a pretty good feeling that the future of our seas will be in safe hands with the youth of today.
This brings to an end another awesome shift on the North Sea, let’s see how Rose gets on with hers next week.
ORCA Wildlife Officer – North Sea