Posted by: orcaweb | June 17, 2013

Schools at sea!

I was feeling a real buzz on the ship after last week’s sightings, but I think the cetaceans are now moving on – possibly following shoals of fish. I’ve been out on the deck every morning and evening of this week and I’ve still had a handful of dolphin sightings, but they have become less frequent, and we haven’t seen any whales since last Sunday – but the weather hasn’t been as calm as last week! A pair of common dolphins showed themselves from a distance as we sailed into Newcastle one morning, by leaping out of the water and playfully chasing one another in a circle.

On one evening, after stubbornly standing outside for 3 hours, I saw two pairs of white beaked dolphins at 10pm – one group rising out of the water just enough to smack their heads back down with a splash, time after time – the other pair performing a series of backflips and forceful tail slaps on the water. Were they just thrilled to be dolphins? Or were they trying to tell others under the water that they had found a shoal of fish? Who knows, but if that’s the area where they’re feeding now then it’s about 2 hours south of where we were seeing them last week, which will make it more difficult to see them while it is still light. Even getting up at 6am on the return journeys to Newcastle found nothing – so I’m not sure where they’ve gone!

The waters in general have fallen fairly quiet this week – not many birds, and no seals. But that’s what makes it special – you never know when you’re going to see it, wildlife is wild after all.

I did, however, have a school (of children, not fish) on board this week from Moorside Community Primary School for their first ever crossing to Amsterdam. The orca centre was busy with activities to practice identification skills and diary entries as the children recorded all of their adventures on board. Of course we were also out on the deck doing some serious watching for cetaceans – I was hopeful after the sightings we have had recently – but the weather took a turn for the worse with some fairly strong winds and a choppy sea! Despite out best efforts, the sightings we did have (a potential porpoise and a definite white beaked dolphin) were only seen by staff. The children, however, were not deterred and were still in high spirits (even when the whale they were convinced they had seen turned out to be a plastic bag) and their diary entries were filled with enthusiasm and excitement of having had a great time on board.

Ben, I’ll leave it in your hands to find the wildlife again! There were four white beaked dolphins swimming by the ship as we passed Sunderland this morning – so they’re still around! Hope you have a good one!

Sara

The children of Moorside Community Primary School eagerly waiting to board the ship

The children of Moorside Community Primary School eagerly waiting to board the ship

The children testing their wildlife ID skills out on the deck

The children testing their wildlife ID skills out on the deck

The great sightings from this two week shift!

The great sightings from this two week shift!

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