Well it’s been another hectic week on board with our new trainee, Janine, starting her placement. Janine hadn’t even been on board for an hour before we had an impromptu fire drill, resulting in us all outside in life jackets and learning how to lower lifeboats into the water – she was certainly thrown in at the deep end! (fortunately not literally).
The ORCA centre has been hectic in the evenings with a full house for presentations, children’s activities and the Wine and Whales evening lectures – so she has gotten to see the ORCA centre at its best!
We also had Moorside Primary School bring 12 students on board for an ORCA Wildlife Mini Cruise crossing, and we spent an evening out on the deck spotting cetaceans and birds. They even got to spot dolphins from the bridge while paying a visit to the captain!
This weekend, an ORCA survey team came on board. I spent several hours with them in the bridge trying to decipher any cetacean shapes through the rain against the windows. Two unidentified dolphins were spotted in the Friday evening leaving Newcastle but nothing on the Amsterdam side due to a sea state 5+!
There’s also a piece on me and the ORCA Wildlife Programme in this weeks ETC magazine – have a look on page 36&37!
However, our luck of the last few weeks was still with us and on Sunday morning as we sailed back into Newcastle we saw white beaked dolphins, a group of porpoise (WITH BABIES!!) and a minke whale. The minke appeared on the port side of the ship, before swimming underneath us and popping out on the starboard side! It was a great finale to the survey team’s crossing – and a great welcome on board for Janine (who I think has just about calmed down from excitement).
I’ll now pass you over to her and she can tell you more about her hectic first week at sea!
Hi. I’m Janine and a self-confessed whale and dolphin addict. I’ve been very lucky to be able to swap desk for deck for the whole of July, being one of four Trainee Wildlife Guides on ORCA’s unique summer programme.
So what has my first week been like? In short, I’ve stepped into another world. Living and working on board a ferry is, in itself, very interesting. Within half an hour on board I’m part of a full-on fire drill, lining up with a crew of many nations. Being part of the crew, and eating in the crew mess feels from day one like being part of a big family. Lots of friendly faces and lots of “Hi”s coming my way. Sara Frost who is ORCA’s Senior Wildlife Officer on board and my trainer for the week is the consummate professional, animated and energetic presenter, great with kids, and an ace wildlife spotter. I’m in good hands. But for the first three crossings although we have seen gannets, gulls and guillemots, the cetaceans (aka whales, dolphins and porpoise) even elude her, due to wind roughing up the North Sea and a swell that is definitely not! All that was to change though. Our return crossing into Newcastle on Sunday morning reveals an almost flat surface and “cetacean anticipation” that does not disappoint. By the time we get into port we have exclaimed “Minke Whale!” three times (although it may have been the same individual), spotted five White Beaked Dolphins and an incredible total of 14 of the shy lovelies of the sea, the little Harbour Porpoise, including a magical sighting of a mother and calf. Bring on Week 2!