This week has been a fantastic week to end my wildlife guide placement with ORCA and apart from a few days when the weather wasn’t good enough to survey it was full of exciting sightings.
During my first evening deck watch since the last blog we saw a small group of white-beaked dolphins jumping and playing in the distance and a grey seal bottling next to the boat, after which a group of passengers and myself were lucky enough to see three minke whales, all within half an hour of being outside! This was a really lovely way to start the week and is the first time I have seen minke whales since being on board, this means that since being on the ship I have now seen 6 different species of marine mammals.
This has taken out total sightings of minke whales up to 8 since March this year (first sighting 20th May), on top of which we have had a few passengers telling us they have also seen minke whales from the ship.
This week Delta Safari joined us again, meaning that for a few deck watches there were plenty of eyes watching for whales and dolphins! Once again they proved to be a bit of a lucky charm when it came to sightings. On Friday morning (24th June) we saw 2 harbour porpoises and white-beaked dolphins as we came into Newcastle. Firstly we saw a group of 20 white beaked dolphins feeding, followed by multiple smaller groups bringing us up to a grand total of 53!! This is the first time ever that our total number of white beaked dolphins sightings for the season has been higher than our total number of harbour porpoises. We have now seen 129 harbour porpoises and 130 white beaked dolphins since March.
In the few days the weather wasn’t as nice as it had been which led to us spending lots of time in the ORCA Wildlife Centre, and one of our main activities this week has been arts and crafts. We have made lots of paper plate marine wildlife and were given the fantastic drawing below from Kai after he and his family spent the evening learning about the wildlife of the North Sea with Kerry.
Later in the week once the weather had cleared we were able to go back outside and get surveying again. We didn’t have quite as many sightings as we did early on in the week but we did see a few white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. We have also seen a lot of sea birds this week including a small group of puffins, some juvenile gannets and black tailed Godwit.
When Delta Safari returned with us we saw another 5 white beaked dolphins, 2 harbour porpoises and 2 grey seals, then in a lovely end the week we saw 19 harbour porpoises as we left Amsterdam on Tuesday night (28th June).