Posted by: orcaweb | June 21, 2016

Summer Solstice Sightings!

When you have a gut feeling, I have learnt I should go with it. When I got on the King Seaways at the start of this week Delta Safari were returning from a trip to the Farne Islands, it was wonderful to have them on-board again. Rebecca had done an hour deck watch during which she had seen a solitary white-beaked dolphin, and with the fog rolling in she joined me back in the Wildlife Centre for the rest of the evening. Around 9:15 though the fog cleared and I remember thinking I should go outside and survey for another hour with daylight hours being so good at his time of year. We had quite a few interested people in the centre at this time though so I never made it outside. I thought nothing else of it until just gone 10pm when two of the Delta Safari guides visited us in the wildlife centre to inform us of the sightings they had seen between 21:15 and 21:30! They had seen 2 white beaked dolphins, 5 harbour porpoise and 1 minke whale about 100m in front of the ship! So lesson learnt… when your gut tells you to get back outside and survey, you should go back outside and survey!

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Minke whale (Michael Deryckere – Delta Safari)

The next evening as we departed Ijmuiden was also a lovely evening for sightings with a steady stream of small pods of harbour porpoise, cumulating in a total of 13 individuals; 2 bottlenose dolphins and a lovely bobbing head of a grey seal.

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Rebecca also this week spotted a harbour porpoise through a window from inside a wildlife centre which the passengers talking to her at the time were also very pleased to see!

Sunday, Rebecca and I headed to Souter Lighthouse Bioblitz with Deb our Marine Litter Porpoise (in preparedness for an ORCA Your Seas shore watch the following day) where we conducted a shore watch for a couple of hours around lunchtime. Unfortunately we didn’t see any cetaceans during our shore watch but we did see a 6 cute and fluffy herring gull chicks on the rocks out in front of us.

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Deb was met by some very interested members of the public, she makes quite a statement when people realise what she is made from!

To round up this week on-board we have seen another 4 unidentified dolphins. Unfortunately, our last crossing to Ijmuiden and back gave us some quite rough seas, which meant that the observation deck was closed.  I am not convinced we would have seen much with the waves and the rain, though! With the deck being closed due to bad weather on our last trip out of Ijmuiden this week, I thought I would pop up to the bridge and see if there was any chance of surveying from inside. Struggling to see anything, I was chatting to the deck officer and it turns out that on Wednesday evening around 23:30 he saw a minke whale from the bridge while on watch. He has told me he will keep me updated with any more sightings he has over night.

Today being the summer solstice I decided that although the observation deck wouldn’t be open until 7:30/8ish I would do an earlier survey from the bridge! This turned out to very productive we had 5 harbour porpoise and nearing 8am I saw my first minke whale of this year, they have been in the area for a few weeks now but I have either been inside or not on the ship when they have been seen! This made a very lovely end to this week!



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