Posted by: orcaweb | September 1, 2014

Goodbye North Sea!

I can’t believe this is my last blog post – this season has gone so quickly! It has been a wonderful 6 months on board the King Seaways and I’m, once again, very sorry to be leaving. This summer has seen heaving deck watches and an even busier ORCA centre with passengers eager to engage in the activities run on board. The Dutch wildlife group, Delta Safari, returned three times on the King Seaways this year to join me out on deck in my never ending quest for cetaceans. I was extremely glad they did – it was like having 30 extra wildlife guides out on deck! With their help we had great sightings, including 13 minke whale sightings in just one day.

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Two members of Delta Safari point to the 4 cetaceans spotted on their mini cruise with DFDS (minke whales, white beaked dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise).

This season we’ve also seen 4 great Trainee Wildlife Guides come on board, each staying with us for a month to learn about running a wildlife education centre and practicing their marine ID skills. All trainees were a great help with increasing our interaction with passengers and have helped Anna and me redesign and update interpretation panels in the ORCA centre.

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Julia on her first day!

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Rachel running a meet and greet with Jack the parrot

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Janine getting ready to open the ORCA centre for an evening’s activities.

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Sarah practicing her cetacean ID skills out on deck!

Our August trainee, Sarah, left yesterday and has written about her month on board:

The month has flown by, learning all about how the wildlife centre is run and how to lead the activities every evening! It has been a great experience and I will take away with me many new skills which I will be able to use throughout university and my career. The most important one for me, has been learning how to give a good presentation. Public speaking can be very difficult and I was very nervous about it. By filming my presentations, the feedback from the wildlife officers and repeating the presentation every evening for 2 weeks, I have improved my technique and actually discovered that I really enjoy giving presentations. I hope that I can do more presentations in the future, which is something I never thought I would say!

I am also very grateful for the help of the wildlife officers who showed me around, and very patiently answered all my questions. They both encouraged and helped me to improve throughout the internship and taught me lots of new skills. It has been a great month on board and I hope that this experience will help me get one step closer to a career in conservation.

As for sightings – they’ve been great! On my first evening back on board we saw SEVENTY (yes, seventy) porpoise in just on hour! The sea exploded with splashes from all directions and I was so pleased to have Sarah with me to help keep track of them all! Recording every sighting AND pointing them out to people can be a bit tricky when they’re happening all at once so it’s been great to have two wildlife officers out on deck for most of the season.

As we departed Newcastle last night a minke whale appeared right on the bow of the ship. I screamed “WHALE!” so loudly that a poor passenger banged her head as she leaped up to see it (one of the hidden hazards of whale watching is hurting yourself in your eagerness to see one). I ushered everybody upstairs to the starboard side in hope we would catch another glimpse of it – and we did! It surfaced twice in the glare sunset, much to the delight of passengers. They weren’t the only ones delighted – no matter how many whales I see here it still excites me just as much. And as this is my last crossing, it’s likely that this was my last whale sighting the season – so I’m very pleased they showed up for me one last time!

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One of the North Sea minkes, coming to wave me off.

Anna, I hope you have a great final two weeks on board and I’d like to thank you all for reading these posts over the season! As for me, I’m packing up a few things in the ORCA centre (and my cabin!) and am off to say goodbye to the crew after another great summer.

All the best,

Sara

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Lots of passengers joining me at 6am for a sunrise deck watch

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Sunrise from the North Sea at 5am…

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A thank you card to the captain from one of our schools that came on board.

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Watching whales in the sunset doesn’t get much nicer than this!

 

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