Jun27

Celebrating the Solstice

Categories // English Channel Wildlife Officer

Celebrating the Solstice

Passengers enjoyed the begining of summer by sailing from Dieppe to Newhaven, but is the sun truly here to stay? 

Hi Everyone,

I have just finished my second week as a Wildlife Officer on board DFDS Dieppe to Newhaven and I am loving every second of it!

We started off on Wednesday with a very foggy day, especially on the crossing back to Dieppe, we couldn’t see 20 meters away from the boat… They had to use the horn to be heard by other ships. I have to say, it is quite funny to give a talk about marine wildlife when the visibility is null and there is a horn sound-like happening every 2 minutes in the background!

The Thursday was a wonderful day, the sun came out early in the morning and the sea state was good. There were no clouds in the sky, all in all, it was the best way to celebrate the solstice.I met a French couple on-board who told me that they have been wanting for years to do the crossing from and back to Dieppe on Summer Day. They were going to stay in Newhaven for just enough time to enjoy a drink and pop up back on board for the return trip! When I asked them if there were a particular reason for this wish, they simply said they desired to spend the longest day of the year on the Channel admiring the sunlight reflecting on the water. As you can imagine, the atmosphere on the ferry was incredible, most of the passengers on deck were enjoying the beginning of summer, the only thing missing was a little dorsal appearing on the surface.

The next day was quite busy; the sun was still with us, I hope it is a sign that summer is truly here! But no time to admire the view, I had to deliver 3 presentations on one crossing! First, a well-attended talk and 2 additional ones to school groups that were on-board. This was a first since I started working with ORCA, and even though I am used to working with children, it is always a surprise to see how amazed they are by the size of cetaceans. They got to listen to the sound dolphins make when they “echolocate”, i.e. produce vibrations in the water which will bounce back to them when they hit a prey, and the songs male whales sing to court females.

On Saturday evening, as there were almost no passengers on board, I decided to go and survey on the bridge to give me a chance to get to know the Officers better. I surveyed throughout most of the crossing, and I even got their help! They also shared some past experiences in the years they crossed over with DFDS and some fun stories where a gannet was flying in front of them and got scared when the klaxon horn went off, dropped 2 meters and turned to the Officers “screaming at them”. As we cruised in the French waters getting ready to enter the port, the sun was slowly disappearing, I was about to call off effort time when I saw them; a pod of 3 common dolphins came on the surface from nowhere close to the front of the boat! They swam alongside the ferry before continuing their route in the Channel. It made my day! I was pumped with adrenaline and I think the Chief Officer was even more excited than I was, thrilled that I got a sighting the one time I was on the bridge! To finish the day on a great note, the Captain allowed me to stay on the bridge for the manoeuver in the harbour. It is very impressive to watch; it seems as easy for them to manoeuver a 130-meter-long ferry than park a car!

I can’t wait to be back on board with them and see what kind of surprises await for week number 3!

Maeva     

ORCA Wildlife Officer – English Channel