The last week of the season on board the DFDS King Seaways got off to a wonderful start. On the evening of the 13th September as we were leaving Newcastle, we had beautifully calm seas and spotted 3 harbour porpoise and 2 white-beaked dolphins much to the delight of everyone who joined us for our deck watch. As well as this we had numerous passengers come into our ORCA Wildlife Centre throughout the evening to let us know that they had seen dolphins and porpoises from various places on the ship.
Left – harbour porpoise, Right – white-beaked dolphin
For us it doesn’t matter how many times we spot a whale, dolphin or porpoise, we still get an incredible jolt of happiness when we see the familiar shape of a fin breaking the surface of the water. You could’ve been standing out on a cold deck for hours but you forget all about that when you see such a magnificent animal. The only thing that can make it even better is when passengers have been out on deck with you and they get to see it too! Such a special moment particularly for those who have never spotted whales or dolphins before.
Unfortunately we didn’t have any further marine mammal sightings for the rest of the week, this was mainly due to the weather, as we had to cancel quite a few deck watches due to fog, delayed sailings and the sea state. However on the few other occasions we did manage to do surveys we did see a variety of sea birds including gannets, kittiwakes and razorbills.
Even if the sightings were few and far between for our final week of the season this week has been quite hectic in our ORCA Wildlife Centre as not only did we have many passengers joining us for various evening activities, but we also had two fantastic school groups that joined us in-between sailings whilst we were in Newcastle. This started with a group of 6 from Fellgate Primary School Autistic Unit who were ecstatic to be getting to visit a ship they have seen departing and arriving North Shields many a time to learn all about whales & dolphins. They were even treated with a trip to the bridge to see the captain.
Later in the week we had a wonderful group from West Newcastle Academy come aboard to investigate the wildlife of the North Sea. Although we weren’t sailing, a great time was had out on the observation deck trying spot birds. After learning about all the threats to whales and dolphins all of the students decided to take part in our ‘Make a Small Change’ campaign. All in all we hope you had a wonderful time West Newcastle Academy.
Even though we haven’t had many sightings this week we have seen some wonderful wildlife in the North Sea since coming on board at the end of March. In total we have seen 7 different species of marine mammal, including 6 different species of cetacean: minke whales, white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise, common dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and the grey seal.
We have had a fantastic time on DFDS King Seaways this year and would like to thank staff from both ORCA and DFDS for having us on board and for supporting us throughout this. Hopefully we will see you all again in 2017!
Kerry and Rebecca