After a couple of choppy trips with hundreds of seabirds, no mammals were spotted by the dedicated Wildlife Officer and passengers… but a few unusual behaviours were certainly seen……
For instance 2 collared doves took a mini-cruise! They were first spotted stowed away on the boat on the way over to Ijmuiden…they then returned with us to Newcastle tucked into the bow of the King of Scandinavia later that day. These birds originating from India have largely expanded their range via the use of shipping! Regular travellers, they were first recorded in the UK in 1952, in Norfolk. I was happy for them to stay but they flew off together as we neared land. Wood pigeons were a regular migrant on board the first few trips, but then a rock pigeon headed out to sea from IJmuiden in very strong NE but shunned a free trip on our boat!…I just hoped for its safe passage. A later trip out of port one evening revealed the beauty of Tynemouth and its Castle by dusk. Herring gulls glowed gold underneath with the reflection of the setting sun, and pink fluffy clouds floated in the sky.
It was back to the lovely calm seas and out of Newcastle this evening that we have been used to this season and it was perfect for spotting sea mammals. A grey seal popped up in front of the ship in the harbour, seen later from the back of the ship it was apparently feeding and swimming amongst the boats moored in the river.
A mile out from the mouth of the Tyne we spotted our first pod of harbour porpoises, then along came another…then something a whole lot bigger rolled over out to sea. A frantic scramble 2 decks up to the side of the ship revealed a minke whale 1.5 nautical miles from the shore!! At an estimate it was approx 7m and could be a juvenile whale. This is our 1st whale sighting of the season and made a perfect start to our May trips out onboard The King of Scandanvia. A sighting from Martin of Experience North East of 2 minke whales off Bewick has more than raised our hopes of seeing many more in the North Sea over the coming summer.
A few minutes later, more porpoises swam past close to the ships bow. With hundreds of razorbills, guillemots, kittewakes, gannets and fulmars out on the North Sea it is easy to see that it’s a really important place for these animals and a great place to get out to Sea!
Senior Wildlife Education Officer for ORCA Organisation Cetacea