Posted by: orcaweb | May 15, 2014

So, what’s it like to be a trainee wildlife officer on board DFDS King Seaways?

I’ve been on the ship for 11 days now and loving every minute of it. The crew are friendly and helpful and we’ve had some interesting passengers on board. I always enjoy being at sea so it’s fantastic to be spending every day doing what I love – looking out for cetaceans and talking to passengers about marine wildlife. The first week I spent shadowing Sara, meeting and greeting the passengers as they came on board, watching her give presentations to the passengers, and helping out with the children’s activities, deck watches and running the wildlife centre. The first couple of days on board also included a tour of the ship and safety briefing, taking part in a fire drill by pretending to be a passenger waiting to be found by the evacuation team, and even a short trip along the river in one of the lifeboats.

Unfortunately, the weather and sea conditions were not on our side with no sightings during our deck watches for the first week, but I remained positive. Sure enough my positive thinking paid off with really good conditions over the last few days and that’s when our sightings began – two harbour porpoises surfacing close to the bow of the ship. Yes! The following evening was even better. Anna suddenly cried out “I think I’ve just seen a whale”. Both rushing to the starboard deck to get a better view, we eagerly scanned the water with our eyes waiting for it to reappear. Then I saw a dark back and dorsal fin break the water’s surface. Sighting confirmed – it was definitely a minke whale!  And as if that wasn’t enough, we also saw four harbour porpoises that evening. Seabirds, on the other hand, have graced the skies for every deck watch. It’s been wonderful to see gannets, including one plummeting from the sky at great speed into the water for fish – amazing! Fulmars, kittiwakes, great skuas, a puffin, herring gulls and sandwich terns have also made a very welcome appearance.Image

Another part of the job is giving presentations to the passengers. Having watched Sara and Anna deliver the presentation on North Sea wildlife, the time had come for me to have a go. First I presented jointly with Anna, then the following evening I was on my own. The first one went well with two passengers even signing up to become ORCA members and the second one went even better with the passengers laughing at some of my comments (which was a good thing as I was only hoping for a smile) and they clapped at the end. Phew! Really looking forward to the next two weeks!

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