This week I’ve observed far fewer cetaceans than I have on my previous shifts – I’ve only had one sighting which was a group of 5 porpoise outside of Newcastle. Despite searching for hours in the rain (with some very dedicated guests!) I still haven’t seen the mystery humpback whale. The summer shoals of fish seem to have dispersed (or, more likely, been eaten) and for now, the waters have fallen almost silent with the exception of several juvenile gannets, sooty shearwaters and a great skua.
In contrast to the sea, the ORCA centre has been full of life this week and I’ve been rushed off my feet, seeing almost 100 guests through the doors on some evenings. I’m so pleased that this summer we’ve managed to maximize the use of the ORCA centre and create a multi-functional venue suitable for running activities for all ages. My presentations have been full with families every evening! After my deck watch the centre then turns into a noisy hub of activity for the children’s wildlife activities. Our children’s Activity Books (which I’ve been working on since March) are now printed and have been for sale in the ORCA centre this week – and I’ve already sold out!
With a quick turnaround, after kids activities the centre becomes a busy cinema for our evening showing of a whale and dolphin documentary, and on nights departing Newcastle it becomes a lecture theatre for our “Wine and Whales” evening lectures (which have been full most evenings). There have been some fantastic debates/discussions during the Wine and Whales evenings (about whaling, shark finning and over fishing) with some really interesting people in the audience – from an employee of Greenpeace who campaigned against over fishing, to a local fisherman who relied upon the industry for his livelihood.
In other activities, on Sunday we had a “Day Sail” and welcomed 400 guests on board as we docked in North Shields, before sailing for two hours up the coast and back. Guests were able to sample the great food and entertainment run on board during our mini-cruises, and of course, people were very interested in the ORCA centre! I did back to back presentations and a mini-deck watch to give passengers a good overview of our wildlife mini-cruises. I’m pretty sure a lot of them were “sold” – and we’ll be seeing them booked onto a crossing very soon!
That’s all from me this week…I’m determined to find some cetaceans for my last week on board of the season! It’s gone so quickly. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me that I see a handful of minke whales/orcas/humpback whales in the next couple of days – then I’ll be happy!