Posted by: orcaweb | May 24, 2016

Have you ever seen a minke whale dive?

Ellie here, completing the second week of my marine wildlife guide experience aboard DFDS King Seaways. Rachael joined me on-board this week. We met seven years ago on a volunteer project in Cuba so it was a joy to work with her again closer to home and catch up.


Me and Rachael in the DFDS King Seaways Wildlife Centre

It’s been a funny week, with gorgeous calm seas for the most part but relatively few sightings. A group of gulls were using the ship’s wind currents to cruise on Saturday evening and we’ve had some lovely shows by the gannets, both juveniles and adults. One gannet dived just off the ship’s bow on Sunday evening, giving the passengers and myself a fabulous display.

We’ve also seen three harbour porpoises swimming away from the ship on our way to IJmuiden. But our main sighting was the first minke whale of the season! On Friday morning (20th May), sailing into Newcastle, I caught a glimpse of a blow. It was lovely and calm so I kept looking and was rewarded with another blow followed by a splash. The whale then dived, and unusually for a minke, lifted its tail fluke clear out of the water. It was a brief view and unfortunately we’d sailed on before I could share it. But how exciting! The minke whales are back in the area, so keep an eye out!


Minke whale diving – the view I got, minus the tail fluke! (Archive photo)

Speaking of minke whales, in the ORCA wildlife centre on-board DFDS King Seaways we’ve been painting minke whale fins, with help from a creative group of children. These are to illustrate how the minke uses its fins to trick its prey for easy feeding. We’ve also been learning how the big whales, like the minke, use their baleen to feed and that the biggest animal on Earth, the blue whale, can only swallow something the size of a grapefruit! Lots of families have joined us this week and we’ve had great fun being minke whales, as well as sharks with the swim fin.


Rachael modelling our minke whale fins

I’m sad to say goodbye to Rachael as we’ve had great time, but she’s heading back to shore to share her knowledge and passion for our whales, dolphins and seas on land. I’m looking forward to welcoming Kerry back on board and hoping for calm seas and more minke whales and dolphins for us to share and enjoy!



Sun and calm seas






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