Newcastle to Bergen (Tuesday 15th – Friday 18st July 2008)
As a wildlife officer I have seen some great sights but sometimes it is not about the things that you see but more about the people you meet that makes a good trip into a memorable one. For instance there was a nice young lad with this mum and I first met them as they were boarding. All he wanted to do was go and see the new Indiana Jones film showing in the cinema. I kept seeing him wandering about and he then gradually started coming up to say hi and spending a bit of time out on deck.
The following evening just as I was about to start my presentation on the Wildlife of the North Sea in he came all on his own and sat in the front row. That evening he and another young lad came and joined me on deck in the search for anything. We didn’t spot any cetaceans but it didn’t seem to matter as they got excited about any bird that flew by. Who would have thought that such a change could have happened in just two days.
A lot of other faces became very familiar over this particular trip and it was great to see them all come together when I announced a deck watch. We spread ourselves around the highest deck which is the closest we get to an all around view. I explained about the species that we should be looking out for and also the clock system. Now for those that are a bit unsure of what the clock system is it works like this; 12 o clock is directly ahead to the bow, 3 o clock is a right angle out to starboard, 6 o clock is directly to stern and 9 o clock is a right angle to port, all the other hours fit in as they would on a clock face.
The whole purpose of using the clock system is so that when there is a sighting you can shout harbour porpoise at 3 o clock and then everyone knows where to look. Simple! Or is it? We had ten o clock getting muddled for two o clock and the amount of rocks identified as minke whales was incredible but every single person was enjoying themselves and a certain amount of camaraderie ensued. We may not have seen any cetaceans during this deck watch but we did spot a heronry just outside of Haugesund that I had not seen before.
The next morning as I was on deck I saw 12 – 14 white-beaked dolphins feeding. It was such a shame that there were not that many passengers on deck at that time. I thought of the people that had stood on deck with me the day before and wished at least some of them had been with me that morning. Therefore, even though it was a fabulous sighting so close to the boat I was slightly disappointed that more people had not been with me.
When I went back inside the young boy and his mum came rushing over to me. As they were eating breakfast they got to see the dolphins out of a window, I was so pleased for them. He was looking forward to going back to school to tell his classmates about the gannets, fulmars and dolphins that he had seen on his trip to Norway…he never did go to the cinema. Wildlife Officers 1 Indiana Jones 0, who would have seen that result coming!