I arrived back on King Seaways earlier this week and have had some great sightings since including a close encounter with a minke whale and pods of harbour porpoises.
I came back on Sunday when DFDS were running a special day sailing trip along the coast from North Shields to Blyth and back. This gave me the chance to explore some different waters. Guillemots happily floated on the surface waters and gulls played above our heads. I was hoping to see some seals with sightings being common around St Mary’s lighthouse in Whitley Bay. We were in luck, with a single grey seal bobbing its pointed head out of the water. We then returned to port to prepare for a journey to Amsterdam.
Sightings of birds continued to be frequent with many black-backed gulls and gannets seen dominating the skies. It took a few days for any whale or dolphin sightings but a harbour porpoise was quickly glimpsed one evening off the coast from Teesside. The best cetacean sightings came on Thursday. At the start of the evening a few small pods of harbour porpoises were seen rolling though the North Sea suggesting that there was food around. We continued to travel south and reached the Scarborough area when a small minke whale surfaced meters form the ship. This 5m long whale popped up on the starboard side of the ship and swam off in a northerly direction. This was the closest encounter I have ever had with a minke whale and one which I’ll certainly remember. The following day, near the Dutch coast, a great northern diver could be seen taking flight and taking to the air.
Hopefully these sightings will continue for the next few weeks.
If any of you are interested in going on surveys and seeing whales and dolphins check out our Marine Mammal survey courses (www.orcaweb.org.uk) can become an ORCA surveyor. Courses are due to be held in Newcastle and Liverpool in the coming weeks!
Good luck wildlife watching!
ORCA Wildlife Officer
DFDS Seaways King Seaways
25th August 2012