Posted by: orcaweb | April 15, 2013

A Week of Firsts

My hopes of seeing some cetaceans this week were high after Sara’s recent sightings.

And I am happy to report that I did spot my first cetaceans of the year. One particular crossing will live long in the memory. Leaving Holland for the first time this week the ship was greeted by a flat calm North Sea, as if it had gone to sleep after being up all the night before rocking the DFDS King Seaways.

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As you can see these are some pretty good conditions for spotting cetaceans; and on Tuesday evening I did! I had a large group of hopeful passengers with me as I explained we had a good chance of spotting something. Then we spotted two harbour porpoises directly in front of the ship, shortly followed by another pair off the starboard side, both pairs were gently rolling at the surface but were easy to see on the relaxed sea surface.

After the passengers had left me for their dinners and the inviting warmth of the ship I spotted something surfacing between two of the many birds on the water (the absence of wind meant there was an abundance of birds paddling at the surface). I saw something shiny as the ship grew closer. Then I could make it out, a common seal tucking into his fish dinner. Not bothered by the presence of the ship; just looking up in awe as we passed right by him.

The following morning I awoke to the same calm sea I had left the evening before. I had been out on deck for less than 5 minutes before WHITE BEAKED DOLPHINS! The first ones I have ever seen and the first of the season. They approached from the port side chasing down the ship, however disappeared down the side and out of my view to ride the bow waves the ship was leaving behind. The birds were still sitting on the sea surface waiting for the winds to pick up before taking flight, which gave me the opportunity to spot my first ever Puffin!

After this amazing crossing I was greeted with a thick fog on most days…

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…that made spotting cetaceans a difficult task.

An ORCA survey team joined me this weekend, the flog clearing for their arrival. The improved weather conditions made for a fantastic survey. The team recorded a minke whale on the way out of Newcastle and numerous harbour porpoises along with a common seal. Not bad at all for the first Newcastle – Amsterdam survey of 2013.

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And by the end of the week the sightings board in the ORCA centre hosted no fewer than 14 species, 10 different bird species, 1 seal and 3 different species of cetaceans. A pretty good week, hopefully to be followed by many more.

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Come back next time when I might have myself a camera and I can show you some photos of the wildlife.

Thanks for reading guys.

Ben.

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