Posted by: orcaweb | April 23, 2014

Breaching Porpoises in the North Sea!

Hello again everyone,

The whale and dolphin sightings this week have been fairly slow.  However, the couple of sightings that we’ve had were simply fantastic.

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Photo: A lovely evening leaving Ijmuiden

On Wednesday evening, leaving Ijmuiden, the water was calm and the wind was low, making it perfect conditions for whale and dolphin watching.   The ship was busy with families heading to Holland to make the most out of the long Easter weekend, and the anticipation out on deck was high.  We had to wait for about 45 minutes for our first sighting, a pair of porpoises seen right on the horizon.  As the boat approached them, the far away black blobs turned into a great view of these fascinating harbour porpoises.  We then saw another group of four porpoises, even closer to the boat.  This sighting will stay in my memory for a long time, as they were breaching, a behaviour I’ve never seen before in porpoises, creating a huge splash!  This gave everyone a chance to study (briefly) their stubby faces and small bodies.  Sprits out on deck were high, as we spotted another pair of porpoises very close to the ship.  We then headed back inside – the children were getting cold and wanted to play giant snakes and ladders (I can’t blame them!).  As we were playing, I then spotted another couple of porpoises out of the window in the ORCA centre!  It was a fantastic evening. 

The only other sighting this week was on Sunday morning, on the approach to Newcastle.  I was scanning the horizon with my binoculars and suddenly a passenger shouted and pointed to something right in front of the ship.  This turned out to be four white beaked dolphins – I suspect they had just been bow-riding before we spotted them.  Then, they gracefully veered off to the starboard side, where they surfaced another couple of times before disappearing.  What a great start to the day!

The weather has been very changeable this week, switching from flat seas and sunshine to rough seas and fog.  The latter has hindered my cetacean watching, but the seabirds have been keeping me company, and I’ve spotted puffins and even an Arctic skua! 

Fingers crossed for good weather next week! 

Anna

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