14/8/15 – 24/8/15
The North Sea welcomed me (Rachael) back on board with several days of storms, high sea states and rain…lots of rain! Sasha completed her time on board with ORCA on 18th August; here she is doing a presentation in the ORCA Wildlife Centre:
Sasha decided to focus her attention on the amount of ‘ghost fishing gear’ and marine debris that was seen daily in the North Sea. The main culprit is balloons, here is a huge bundle of yellow party balloons seen just off Hartlepool, still with some helium in. These are a huge threat to cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), as they can swallow them, mistaking them for food such as jellyfish and squid!
Our sea bird sightings have been great this week, with plenty of gannets, artic terns, great skuas (see photo below) as well as an oyster catcher that decided to follow us out to around Hartlepool one evening!
Sophie (12), Lucy (9) and Toby (5) created this spectacular chalk drawing of the underwater sea life that can be seen off Souter Lighthouse, with squid, corals, kelp and, of course, a breaching whale:
Each evening the ORCA centre is full of families learning how to use binoculars prior to deck watch:
Three lovely families joined me during the week to play several games including ‘spot the difference between sharks and dolphins’.
I was also joined by a familiar face, Rhiannon from a primary school I visited earlier in the year. She decorated her own White-beaked dolphin mask whilst brother Josh dressed up as a Killer Whale!
This week was Harbour Week in Ijimuden so the DFDS King was beautifully decorated with all the international shipping signal flags whilst in Port:
The most likely sighting a passenger is going to see from the observation deck is this; a Harbour porpoise. ORCA Wildlife officers try to position people across the deck to get more eyes on the North Sea, but these porpoises can be sneaky!
Porpoises keeping ORCA Wildlife officers busy out on deck watch. They are very quick and hard to spot amongst the waves.
Our final ORCA placement of the season is Beckie, she has just graduated with a 1st class degree from Leeds University, receiving special recognition for her dissertation on ‘The effects of herring gull behaviour in response to bird calls’. Beckie is a keen PADI suba diver, who is British Diver Marine Mammal Medic trained and has been volunteering with The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) since 2013.
Beckie has settled in nicely on board DFDS King Seaways, and has already presented to many passengers on board. Her sightings have included grey seals and porpoises, as many as 14 in a deck watch! She is eager to see the minke whales and white beaked dolphins, you will be hearing from her next week 🙂
Porpoises in the cold North Sea!
A beautiful North Sea sunset.