2019-08-24 - Newcastle-Amsterdam
On the bank holiday weekend the team met at a very busy North Shields DFDS Terminal as well as passengers travelling using our ferry there was a Large Cruise liner by us. The Inspirational Netherlands transplant team who had been competing in Newcastle were onboard who got a tremendous reception on arrival in Ijmunden. After a briefing of the necessary protocol, we boarded the DFDS King Seaways being met by our Wildlife Officers, Rosamond Clay & Anika Holtrop. Incredible hard working, enthusiastic ORCA representatives who became great friends over the weekend. We then utilised the excellent crew`s mess for a superb buffet at 1630 ship`s time. Many thanks to DFDS and the welcoming crew. Sightings the week prior were good, with over 400 harbour porpoise one night and bottlenose dolphins.
At North Shields it was 24°c on the coast with blue sky cover and a light E breeze but a hazy horizon. The Sea state forecast was 3 and a 1.5 metre swell. We managed to start surveying at 16:00 GMT on the bridge. The Durham coast was surprisingly quiet but we did see 2 manx shearwaters and a few auks, 4 whimbrel, and a bonxie. Off North Yorkshire things became rather interesting. Initially we saw surging, feeding cetaceans and then due to the bright sunshine you could work out their shapes and colouration of bottlenose dolphins .They were torpedoing under the surface. After a few pods of these we then noticed a change in activity more intense feeding, smaller animals that proved to be common dolphins and then 3 large white beaked dolphins.
The night before a remarkable 29 Minke whales had been noted off Whitby. We noted the lack of them despite the plentiful food supplies.
The following early morning transect 2 was much quieter with a single harbour porpoise near the windfarms, the highlight being a purple heron flying past 5 km offshore. Back on board the King Seaways, we commenced effort for transect 3 in the evening but again it was a quiet session with 2 harbour porpoise.
Fortunately transect 4 was a sea state 2 to 1, hazy sunshine. Again the North Yorkshire coast was good with 2 distant Minke whales cruising south and then the harbour porpoise started. Semi breaching they performed for 2.5 hours, in total 47 individuals!
This was an amazing survey, due to a keen enthusiastic team.
I would like to thank DFDS, Captain Danial Vang and his friendly crew.
Cetaceans & Mammals Seen:
Harbour porpoise 51
White beaked dolphin 3
Common Dolphin 9
Bottle nosed dolphin 18
Minke Whale 3
Unidentified dolphin 12
Grey seal 1
Birdlife at Sea Seen:
Gannet, cormorant, shag, fulmar, manx shearwater x2, greater black-backed gull, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, black-headed gull, kittiwake, common tern, sandwich tern, Arctic tern, guillemot, razorbill, puffin, purple heron, turnstone, whimbrel x4 and teal x4
Survey team members
Brian Clasper,Chris Whitell, Caroline Hancock and Sarah Kane