Posted by: orcaweb | July 25, 2008

ORCA / DFDS Seaways Wildlife Officer Beth Hazell has a new educational tool – the blubber glove! But will anybody dare try it?

Newcastle to Bergen (Thursday 10th – Sunday 13th July 2008)


After having two weeks off I am back on board the MS Queen of Scandinavia armed with a new educational tool……….the blubber glove! Now the blubber glove is designed to demonstrate how cetaceans manage to keep warm in cold waters and I was very keen to use this in one of my activity sessions with the children on board. Just before the session was due to start I got a bucket of ice cold water and set the experiment up in the conference room.


Soooo cold! Children try out the infamous 'Blubber Glove' on the MS Queen of Scandinavia

Soooo cold! Children try out the infamous 'Blubber Glove' on the MS Queen of Scandinavia

Basically the glove is made out of two plastic bags that have a layer of lard in between them and the idea is that the child will put the glove on one hand and then submerge both hands in the icy water.  The end result being that the hand with the glove can stay in the water far longer than the hand without, showing with ease and effectiveness the great insulating properties of fat!


I had 16 children turn up for the activity session and I have to admit that some of them did look slightly wary as they saw the bucket of ice cold water and chose to do some colouring and puzzles first but there were other children that wanted to dive straight in. My first volunteer was a Norwegian lad and you could see the penny drop as soon as he had to bring his ungloved hand out of the water.  After that everyone wanted a go and not just the children; parents wanted to try it out too which was great to see. The blubber glove may have to make a regular appearance and not just in the activity sessions, with the enthusiasm that the adults showed I may just take it out and about on deck so everyone can have a go!


Another welcome comment that I received during this trip was from a gentleman that had spent the last few weeks travelling around the fjords. On his outward journey he had come to our ‘Wildlife of the North Sea’ presentation and he was now sailing back to the UK.  He made the effort to come and find me to let me know that he had enjoyed the presentation and because of it, whilst he was sailing the fjords he was able to spot and recognise two harbour porpoises and a white-tailed sea eagle. That comment alone really made my day, as for a wildlife officer it’s not all just about what we can spot while we are en-route.  That said, there was a beautiful red sunset on the 12th which was crowned by a minke whale sighting and several white-beaked dolphins travelling past the ship – it’s not a bad life out at sea!

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