Posted by: orcaweb | July 2, 2010

Weekend with Orca Volunteers, Incredible sightings!!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to have Orca volunteers on board. The trip however began with very rough seas, the roughest that I have ever encountered, so the bird sightings were pretty low in numbers and no cetacean sightings. However there was a bright light at the end of the trip as in the morning on our way back into Newcastle the sun was shinning, the sea was so flat, it was perfect. In three hours we saw amazing wildlife. Firstly we saw 3 Grey seals, which were quite far from land; they most likely came from the Farne Islands for a morning feed, feeding on fish, squid or crustations. Grey seals are quite large, reaching up to 3m in length and can dive up to 70m. We then saw three white beaked dolphins that were bow riding the ship; they grow up to about 3m in length, quite stocky build and very dark with white saddle bits, and pale belly. They are very gorgeous animals. The next sighting were three Harbor Porpoises, these reach up to about 1.9meters, so are very small compared to other cetaceans. They came from the side of the ship and swam in front which I thought was unusual as they are quite shy animals. Just about half a mile away from Tyne mouth we saw a pod of 8 dolphins, they were so far away it was impossible to identify them, and then we saw a pod of six. They were swimming very fast jumping along the surface, so they were defiantly on a mission. Behind the two pods was a mother and calf bottlenose dolphin, so I am predicting that the rest of the dolphins were bottlenose too as it is very common for a mother and calf to fall back behind the pod due to the calf being slow. Bottlenose dolphins can reach up to 4meters, so they are the largest dolphins we find in the North Sea. It was amazing to sea all of these dolphins, I’m guessing that they were following the routes of a large shoal of fish. I was very happy that Orca’s volunteers had this experience too, that their trip wasn’t just looking at rough seas. Many people are shocked when they find out we have amazing wildlife in the North Sea and don’t believe it, but it is true. My shift had started on the 11th June and I have seen a marine mammal on every trip, I have one more trip to go so I hope he pattern doesn’t break. This is why we need to look after the North Sea so we can protect the beautiful wildlife that inhabits the North Sea. Stephanie Barnicoat BSc Orca Wildlife Officer

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