Posted by: orcaweb | July 25, 2008

ORCA / DFDS Seaways Wildlife Officer Beth Hazell finds a whale by accident whilst dolphin watching onboard the Queen of Scandinavia

Newcastle to Bergen (Friday 18th – Monday 21st July 2008)


What an explosive start to the trip!  An ORCA survey team were onboard which is great for me as it means there are many eyes watching the water in search of wildlife.  Harbour porpoises were seen shortly after departure from Newcastle.  Then there was a sighting of three white-beaked dolphins, then more harbour porpoises, two dolphins appeared on each side of the boat and I don’t think anyone knew where to look next!  Shortly after that there was a splashing just off of the bow and two other dolphins appeared and then were gone.  The last two sightings of dolphins occurred so quickly that it was not possible to identify the species with any degree of certainty.


When the dolphins were around I ran down to stern on the off chance that I would be able to spot them again and show more passengers. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case as I was not able pick them up again.  Not so unfortunately was that while I was searching through my binoculars for them I saw lots of birds circling and as I focused I saw a minke whale come up right in the middle of them, an absolutely phenomenal start to the trip!


The problem with watching dolphins is you can easily miss a whale!

The problem with watching dolphins is you can easily miss a whale!

The fog set in later that evening and did call a halt to proceedings but 6:30 am the following morning, even though there was a slight chill in the air it was plain lovely on deck.  There were seven black-backed gulls with two (perhaps slightly confused!) juvenile gannets in amongst them cruising along with the boat.  Everything was still except for the occasional flapping of their wings, a great relaxing way to start the day.  As if we had not been lucky enough on this trip we were also treated to a close view of a white-tailed eagle on another fine weather day. 


A comment that I get quite regularly is of how silent it can be as we sail between Bergen and Stavanger.  The great thing about that is that it is actually possible to hear bird calls.  The familiar sound of the oystercatcher is becoming the most frequently heard. In fact just outside of Stavanger I hear them before I can see them which then leads to the ‘who can spot the bird first’ game.  There are some keen-eyed passengers out there I can tell you but it all adds to the fun on board!


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