Posted by: orcaweb | September 6, 2016

Marvelous Minke Whales!

In Weng’s blog lats week he mentioned that we thought the minke whales had returned to the area… and it seems that he was right! I saw 3 minkes in 3 days following the two seen at the end of last week.

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Minke whale


On Monday I was joined by a Dutch volunteer, Karlijn, who spent a few days on-board the King Seaways with me. Monday evening departing IJmuiden, it was lovely and calm and we saw a few small harbour porpoises while sailing through the windfarms.

Due to a health issue on board overnight, unbeknownst to us at the time due to the condition of the passenger we had to turn around and head back to Ijmuiden (the nearest port to our position)! This I found out upon arriving on deck the next morning when I could not see a coastline in any direction. For those of you who don’t know the route the King Seaways takes means that we sail up the coast of the UK for quite a way as opposed to cutting straight across the North Sea. Ordinarily when I start my morning deck watch on the way in to Newcastle I can see the British coastline.


Karlijn with passengers

Leaving Karlijn out on deck with passengers I visited the bridge to investigate further as to where we were! I found that we were still in the middle of the North Sea, with no arrival due until 6pm (Normal arrival time 10am). Although this was an inconvenience for those with onward plans, for us out on deck it meant we had a much longer period to survey, in areas that from this ship we are normally unable to survey due to the overnight sailing!

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2nd calander year Gannets


Throughout the day we were joined by many passengers taking advantage of the beautiful weather and sea conditions. Our first sighing of the day to the delight of the many passengers out on deck with us was a small pod of harbour porpoise.   We were also lucky enough to see a beautiful minke whale about 4km from the ship, however it seems that we were travelling in its direction because before long it was just a few hundred meters off the port side of the ship. The proximity of this minke whale to the ship was incredible as it gave a brilliant view to the passengers that were enjoying the sunshine. Many people still remain surprised that we have such large creatures living in the North Sea.

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Beautiful minke whale


These were not the end of our sightings for this day of extended surveying periods. Throughout the day we had a total of; 3 small cetaceans, 9 harbour porpoises, 10 white-beaked dolphins and 2 seals and of course the beautiful minke whale. Thanks to the early sightings we had many passengers out enjoying these animals throughout the day.

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2 of our many harbour porpoises this week

I had one more great day for sightings this week with lots of porpoise… and even a shark! Though I didn’t get a particularly great look at the shark to get any better identification than it was approximately a meter long. To be honest, I was not expecting to see the shark, and it took my brain a few minutes to process what it had just seen jumping out of the water.

Unfortunately the last few days of this week the weather has turned and we had a few slightly bumpy crossings during my last couple of days on-board.

Happy spotting!




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