Since apparently everyone’s feeling very British at the moment I thought I’d start with the Great British weather. As I’m sure you’ve all noticed the weather has not been excellent with flash flooding in Wales and less than desirable conditions at sea. This has impeded efforts to find whales and dolphins for most of the week although we did have more luck towards the start of the week with whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings.
I boarded the ship on Monday and had some of the best sightings I’ve had in the North Sea. Just off the coast of Hartlepool fellow wildlife watchers alerted me to a pod of dolphins off the bow. I looked out and saw a large body thrashing in the water and quickly identified my first minke whale of the season. What I didn’t realise was that I had looked beyond the dolphins so I only caught a few of their splashes out of the corner of my eye. The minke whale then became the focus of everyone’s attention as it exhales producing large tall blows of condensed water vapour from its huge lungs. The minke whale is the largest animal regularly spotted around Britain. These giant baleen whales can reach lengths of up to 10m and cruise around the oceans in search of small fish. Since I missed the dolphins I’m unable to confirm the species but by other peoples descriptions they were apparently large suggesting they could have been either bottlenose or white-beaked dolphins.
When we left Netherlands the following day conditions were good and pleasant rays of sunlight provided some warmth. Throughout the evening small groups of harbour porpoises appeared and sank back into the water. These were the last cetacean sightings of the week as the weather quickly dominated sea conditions although gannets feeding have been a regular sight with some of these large birds appearing to use the ship’s hull as a make-shift cliff to follow down into the water in hunt of fish.
The weather is due to improve so hopefully next week I will have more tales of minke whales, dolphins and harbour porpoises!
Please check the website at http://www.orcweb.org.uk!
ORCA Wildlife Officer
DFDS Seaways King Seaways