Right the Orca season has now ended on the King of Scandinavia. It has been a fabulous six months on board. We have seen lots of amazing wildlife such as many bottlenose dolphins, most commonly seen in the morning very close to North and South Shields pier. The average size of the pods that we have seen have been 5-6 however one morning there was 19 individuals including 1 calf.
We are seeing more white beaked dolphins now, and less Minke whale as they disappear for the winter. Harbour Porpoises have been the most common cetacean that we have seen throughout the North Sea, mainly near the coast, as even though they can dive up to 200m they prefer to stay in the shallows up to approximately 15m, so these animals are good to spot from land.
An amazing sighting last month spotted by Kathryn was the 8 Orcas, near the shore of Sunderland, so that could possibly be one of the highlights of the season.
We have seen many birds in the North sea, gannets on every trip, cormorants, shags, gulls, kittiwakes, the shearwaters, great and arctic skua’s, alk species such as puffins, razorbills and guillemots, northern Fulmer along with many other birds which shows that the North sea is an important environment as it supports millions of birds each year.
We have had my activities in the centre over the past 6 months, my personal favourites have been the turtle hatchling game, making animal hats, the marine litter game as you can teach the children why litter is so bad in the sea, and the fish vs. whales game, and after 6 months of putting it to the test, I have to say that children are smarter than adults, they know more about the difference between fish and whales. Another one of my favourites was the 2010 poster, where lot of children drew their favourite animal which will be displayed at Orcas big whale weekend in Oxford, Saturday 6th November.
So to sum it up, it has been a fantastic summer working with Orca. Firstly I’d like to thank all the passengers that joined in the deck watches, listened to the presentations and visited the centre, thank you to all of the children who took an interest, I hope you all learnt something about marine conservation. Also thank you to DFDS for your help and support over the summer and thank you to Orca for making it an unforgettable experience.Steph Barnicoat Orca wildlife Officer