Posted by: orcaweb | April 18, 2017

Easter holidays in the ORCA Wildlife Centre

The third week of this year’s Wildlife Officer season started with a pretty rough sea, so the conditions of spotting whales and dolphins weren’t ideal. Nevertheless I enjoyed my time here on board the DFDS King Seaways very much and this is due to the fantastic passengers that come into our ORCA Wildlife Centre every day. A big thank you to each one of you!

Pax & Porpoise

Happy visitors in the ORCA Wildlife Centre

On Monday morning (10th of April) I was excited for the start of a new week, but unfortunately I found the observation deck to be closed due to high winds. Tuesday and Wednesday continued with often numerous white caps on the water and so I kept on telling passengers (and myself!) that there is never a guarantee of seeing whales and dolphins and that you need to have patience – plus, a calm sea state would be an advantage as well…

Rough Sea

Where are the whales?

By the middle of the week, the passengers and I were rewarded by several sightings of some wonderful puffins! They were sitting on the water surface and then quickly dived and disappeared again. The next few days brought more puffin sightings – to the delight of passengers and myself! These seabirds with a really colourful beak spend almost the entire year out on sea and only come on land for their breeding season, which starts late March or early April. Other highlights were a few sandwich terns and a flock of black-headed gulls, which I saw when we were approaching Ijmuiden.

Sandwich Tern

A beautiful sandwich tern

Flock black-headed gulls

A flock of black-headed gulls

On Friday evening passengers and I were greeted by a really calm sea with only small wavelets. Then it got even calmer with just a few ripples to be seen. Despite these great conditions there was no sign of whales, dolphins or porpoises in the water.

Although this nice and calm sea state was gone the next day, I was immensely happy to have finally spotted a small cetacean species – most likely a harbour porpoise – on Saturday! Even so the sea was quite rough and I only managed to catch a glimpse of this animal about 50 m ahead of the ship, I was very excited!

The next day it was cold, windy and raining. But there were still some brave passengers who endured these conditions out on the observation deck and joined me to look out for wildlife. We could see some of our usual visitors in the sky, such as gannets, kittiwakes, auks, herring gulls and black-backed gulls.

Greater black-backed Gull

Greater black-backed gull in flight

As this week was part of the Easter holidays many passengers, including a lot of families, visited the ORCA Wildlife Centre. As always – all of these passengers were a pleasure to meet! Having quite a lot of children visiting the centre also meant a lot of children’s activities. Memory games, quizzes, treasure hunts, children’s book reading, colouring and making Origami marine animals were all on my programme list! I have to admit though that the children (with some help of their parents) often did a better job at these Origami creatures than me! So I will have to do some practising!

Origami

Arts & Crafts: Marine animals Origami

My second week here on board the King’s Seaways – as the first one – has been great and came to an end very quickly.  I am very happy to have spotted a harbour porpoise this week and I am very much looking forward to all the exciting sightings I’m sure this season will bring! This week Lucy will come on board, so join her next week for more information and exciting stories about the North Sea!

Best wishes,
Julia

Clouds & Sun

Beautiful view over the North Sea

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