Posted by: orcaweb | November 7, 2012

A season summed up!

2012 (March – September) in numbers:

  • 89 whale and dolphin sightings
  • 3 species; harbour porpoise, white-beaked dolphin and minke whale
  • Totalling 190 animals.

Well what a season! We’ve had all 3, a full house: whales, dolphins and porpoises on our North Sea Wildlife Officer route this year. And even better, we have been able to share all of this with DFDS Seaways passengers from across Europe. A big thanks to all those dedicated passengers who stood out with us on (an all too often) cold and windy deck to keep Nathan and I company as we waited… and waited… and waited. But all that waiting sure paid off with some incredible sightings; so to sum up here are my top 3 highlights from 2012:

1. The first time I saw white-beaked dolphins! These large energetic animals are relatively common in the North Sea but are rarely seen elsewhere in UK waters. My first sighting was incredible – three of these dolphins leapt clear of the water in front of the ship near the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby and headed towards deeper water. They were noticeably larger than the common and striped dolphins I was accustomed to and their white saddles clearly glinted in the sparkling sunlight. But this wasn’t to be my only sighting and happily throughout the year I saw several other pods of these fantastic predators.

White-beaked dolphin ©Ketos ecology

2. I regularly saw harbour porpoises around the north east coast of England throughout the season but the choppy nature of the North Sea often hid many of these shy cetaceans. However, on one unusually calm day, and with the help of a group of passengers, we saw over 60… yes 60! harbour porpoises in amongst the wind farms close to the Dutch coast. An excellent day’s work!

3. I was also lucky enough to have some brilliant sightings of minke whales. The first was on a blustery night when a few blows were visible despite the ocean spray, and the body of 2 whales just poked out of the ocean surface. A welcome exchange for my near frostbitten fingers!

Looking out for whales and dolphins with ORCA wildlife officers in the North Sea!

I’ve had a brilliant season on-board DFDS King Seaways and would seriously encourage anyone eager to see these magnificent animals in the wild, to explore UK seas and keep watching out for wildlife wherever you are. And remember that ferries provide an excellent opportunity to see whales and dolphins, closer to home than you may realise!

Happy watching.

Mike

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