This week has been fairly hectic on the DFDS King Seaways; we had volunteer Becca Reed join us on board for 5 days to help us continue the ORCA OceanWatch project. On Wednesday, after 4 weeks with us we said goodbye to Will on Friday and then welcomed our new ORCA Wildlife Officer placement Weng on Sunday!!
We were hoping to have lots of sightings for Wills last week and Wengs first few days but despite the calm waters and sunny skies the second week of ORCA OceanWatch in the North Sea has given us a few less sightings than the first. As we left Newcastle on the 27th (Wednesday) we spotted two white-beaked dolphins right next to the ship, and on Thursday, both as we came into and left Ijmuiden, we managed to see 3 harbour porpoise swimming within the nearby windfarm and 1 Grey Seal.
This nice weather didn’t continue into Friday morning though and as we came into Newcastle it was very foggy so we were unable to see any marine mammals, however our luck changed as we were leaving Newcastle that afternoon and we managed to see one grey seal, three harbour porpoise and 3 white-beaked dolphins.
This has been a big week for Grey Seals as we also saw two on Saturday (30th) one when we were coming into Newcastle and one when we were leaving later that afternoon. The grey seals were spy hopping right next to the boat, this takes our total number of Grey seal sightings to 18 so far this year.
As we left Newcastle on the 30th we once again had mirror flat water so also managed to see four harbour porpoise.
Even though we haven’t had as many sightings as last week our total number of animals seen over the 9 days of ORCA OceanWatch 2016 is higher than last year which is fantastic, in total we have seen over 130 different marine mammals – roughly three times the amount we saw in the North Sea during ORCA OceanWatch 2015. This year on the boat passengers have gotten really involved in ORCA OceanWatch and trying to help us spot marine mammals with many staying out with us for 2-3 hours each evening.
Since Sunday there has been a little bit of a lull in sightings and despite the lovely weather we only saw 1 dolphin on Sunday as we were leaving Newcastle, unfortunately it was only a fleeting glimpse so we couldn’t identify what species it was. This week we have been having loads of fun in our ORCA Wildlife centre playing games and doing lots of arts and crafts. Some of our main activities has been making posters about whales and dolphins and creating paper plate marine animals!
Hopefully the lovely weather will continue and Kerry and Weng will have lots of exciting sightings next week!