Greetings, fellow whale and dolphin enthusiasts! With the school holidays in full swing and the ship fully booked on a number of days, it certainly promises for a fantastic time onboard. It has been a week since I started this placement onboard the King Seaways and what a whirlwind of a week it has been, full of excitement and (a little) frustration thrown in for good measure.
Having just joined the ship and the ORCA team, I found myself in an amazing place with so much to learn and to look forward to. The possibilities seemed endless. During this time, I orientated myself with this maze of the ship, completed the safety tour and the lifeboat training. Of course, it goes without saying, I also had lots of time to get out on deck to look out for these whales and dolphins.
After 4 days of not seeing signs of any marine mammals (even the sightings of sea birds were rather few and far between), I was starting to wonder where all the whales and dolphins are. However, on Friday, the excitement ramped up a notch with a grey seal coming up to get a better look at the ship. Was this going to be the end of the sightings drought?
The next morning, on the way into Newcastle, the weather was pretty good for a deck watch, so we stayed out a little longer as the ship made her way towards the breakwater. We were finally rewarded with the sight of a small pod of bottlenose dolphins breaching in the middle distance, along with a few more unidentified dolphins.
Later that day, still high from the excitement of the earlier sighting, I decided to head out early to start the deck watch. Diving gannets were seen as we sailed south and although I remained hopeful that a cetacean would show up, nothing more was seen that day.
As though to make up for the lack of sightings, the evening presentations have all been very busy. Almost everyday all the seats in the presentation area was filled with more people standing. Deck watches were also busy with lots of enthusiastic passengers asking numerous questions on whales and dolphins. Back in the Wildlife Centre there has been a constant trickle of children and adults throughout the evening on most days. They all seem to leave the centre happy with their new found knowledge of marine mammals.
Also this week, Kerry delivered a presentation at Dove Marine Lab for Splashdown summer school, with Debris the marine litter porpoise and our ghost gear lobster pot in tow. Kerry had a fab time, and she even stayed on, by invitation, to judge the marine mammal sand sculpture competition in the afternoon.
It has been an amazing first week and may this continue in the following 3 weeks. Perhaps with a few more sightings of those amazing whales and dolphins.