It has been a long time coming but Rose is finally getting some good weather during her shift onboard the DFDS KING Seaways!
We had a bumper night on board with 42 sightings including some calves and a group of 7 harbour porpoises foraging under a large flock of gulls. It was great to see passengers not only enjoying seeing the wildlife but quickly taking on responsibility of shouting great directions as to where they were so everyone could see, and also asking questions about the lives of these tiny and shy cetaceans. I am really hoping that one or two of the people that were out on deck with me that night, are going to continue their new found enthusiasm for cetacean surveys as I couldn’t have managed so many sightings in such a short time without their help!
The sight of some harbour porpoise calves signaled the start of baby season for me. Only two days later I realized that the gull colony situated just outside of our berthing point was no longer just a sea of white but had grey and brown speckled bodies running around it too. With gulls known for being fierce and protective parents, I have no doubts that these babies will soon be up showing off their striking tawny brown young gull plumage alongside other youngsters soon.
Even more wonderfully, one of the crew members spotted a herring gull hanging around the gangway. On closer inspection we realized that she had indeed built a nest there on the gangway. Despite it being noisy and frequently moved, as well as made of cold metal, the nest was perfectly sheltered by the edge and in a great spot next to the river – a great choice of nesting site, and further proof that gulls are adaptable and not afraid to try new things! The three young chicks are now frequently seen running around the gangway even as passengers are getting on the ship!
And lastly, a wonderful morning survey around Newcastle saw us getting amazing views of many kinds of seabirds including 7 manx shearwaters flashing their two tone bodies at us, but we were missing that cetacean flair. Then, just as we turned towards the sea wall, four bottlenose dolphins rose out of the water and swam right for us. With around 50 people out on deck to watch our arrival they raised a massive cheer and surely a story for many of those passengers to go home with.
These sightings really show to me that wildlife really is all around us. From the common seals we see hauled out in Ijmuiden harbour to our herring gull deciding to nest on a busy ferry gangway and even the multitudes of porpoises we see around the busy and industrial waters of the Dutch coast, wildlife is there. We just need a some patience and a bit of luck.
ORCA WIldlife Officer - North Sea