Jul23

A breaching Minke Whale!

Categories // North Sea Wildlife Officer

A library image of a Minke whale

Read more about our NorthSea Wildlife Officer Ingrid's first encounter of a breaching Minke Whale this week here...

The summer is in full swing aboard the DFDS KING Seaways on the North Seas with mostly flat, calm seas and beautiful sunny days which bring more passengers out on the observation deck and visitors to the ORCA wildlife lounge. The wildlife has also not disappointed. Monday evening the sea was probably as flat as I have ever seen it and we counted over 20 harbour porpoises much to the astonishment of the passengers. However, during the night the wind had picked up and for that morning’s deck watch I stood in the intermittent rain trying to spot something amongst the white caps of the waves. After 2 hours I was pretty cold so I headed down to the warmth of the lounge not having spot any marine mammals. As I rid myself of the slightly wet outer gear I kept looking out to sea through our beautifully big windows in the centre. I spotted a feeding frenzy of birds with gannets diving from dizzying heights and then I saw the grey back of a Minke whale with its distinctive dorsal fin. My call of “whale” surprised many guests as they had been lulled by the motion of the ship and didn’t really think I was being serious, but they looked where I pointed and they were rewarded with a Minke whale BREACH! Woohoo! A Minke whale breach was a first for me and I was so happy that I had opened the lounge that morning and could share it with the passengers. Though we haven’t had any more breaching Minke whales this week we have had many bird feeding frenzies and we even saw a Minke whale surfacing as it fed in amongst all the birds.

The Minke whale is the smallest baleen whale encountered in European waters but the most commonly encountered. It is the only baleen whale without an easily observable blow that is often encountered in shallow waters, close to land. It is thought the Minke whales seen in the North Sea in July are migrating to the productive waters of the North for the summer.

I hope the beautiful weather and sea conditions continue for Sunita and Amelia in the coming week. Come back again next week to read whether the dolphin whisperer, Sunita has had any more amazing white-beaked dolphin sightings and whether Amelia’s tally of Minke whales has increased. Who knows they might just see one of our rarer species. You never know, things change minute by minute here in the North Sea.

Ingrid