Posted by: orcaweb | May 13, 2013

ORCA Launch

What a hectic week back on board! The first two days back on my shift were spent preparing for our ORCA launch (in between all of the wildlife watching!). The launch was a celebration of ORCA’s 5 year wildlife officer partnership with DFDS seaways, and I had the pleasure of unveiling a piece of artwork (painted by local artist Fiona Dunn) which depicts the local Newcastle priory and beach. Our ORCA centre was packed full with a group of pupils from Highfield Community Primary School (Sunderland), their teachers and several newspapers all of whom were joining us on board for the occasion.

Sara talking to the children about surveying for whales and dolphins!

Sara talking to the children about surveying for whales and dolphins with ORCA!

The interactive artwork will enhance the ORCA centre as it motivates children to think about marine issues in their local environment and encourages them to have a proactive approach to conservation. The children of Highfield Community Primary School were the first to test this out – and they did a great job of drawing marine related pictures (whales, dolphins etc.) and sticking them onto the painting of their local beach. They had also created pictures of threats to marine wildlife – for example wind turbines, ships and litter. I look forward to having this new addition on board and it will be enjoyed by many other children who can be adding their own marine pictures for some time to come.

The artwork mounted in the ORCA centre - covered in great pictures!

The artwork mounted in the ORCA centre – covered in great pictures!

After this event, we took the children onto the Observation Deck to train them to look for wildlife along with other marine activities. However, I couldn’t stay as I was off to have a phone interview with another newspaper covering the event (ORCA have been in 4 newspapers so far this week!). Straight after this I spoke live from the boat on BBC Radio Newcastle about the launch of the artwork as we sailed out to the North Sea. To listen to this interview just click on the link below and scroll to the bottom of the page:
http://www.orcaweb.org.uk/news/orca-and-dfds-celebrate-5-years-of-working-together
It was great to get so much coverage for ORCA and the partnership we have with DFDS seaways!
Now all the hype is settling back down again, I can go back to wildlife watching. We’ve had regular sightings of porpoises and birds (including puffins, guillemots and fulmars). My top sighting of the week, however, was a Peregrine falcon, which glided right over me and my guests as we were an hour out to sea from Amsterdam. A deadly and powerful bird, their name Peregrine originates from the Latin Peregrinus meaning “one from abroad” referring to the extensive travel and migrations that these birds undertake. It was great to see one on its journey, wherever it may have been going! Another interesting sighting I noticed was a herring gull sitting on her nest at the Newcastle terminal (built on possibly one of the worst locations she could have chosen – the air bridge) who seemed blissfully unaware that her precious egg had rolled out of the nest. Fortunately, herring gulls can lay 2-4 eggs, so hopefully she will take better care of the others!

The egg (to the left of the nest) that Mrs. Herring Gull thought she was incubating.

The egg (to the left of the nest) that Mrs. Herring Gull thought she was incubating.

That’s all from me for this week. See you in 7 days!
Sara

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