Posted by: orcaweb | July 3, 2017

Stormy, but exciting, North Sea!

Welcome back to another week on board the DFDS King Seaways with your ORCA Wildlife Officers in the North Sea. The beginning of the week was literally electrifying. After almost tropical conditions in previous days we awoke on Wednesday to a magnificent storm. Despite the sun having risen early that day the sky was black for our morning deck watch with thick dense clouds, it almost felt like the night time was still upon us. Then the rumbling began and it wasn’t the rumble of Wildlife Officer stomachs!! Thunder was spreading through the sky and we could tell that we were sailing right towards it as the sounds became louder and louder. Then, a flash, the sky was illuminated. Fork lighting reached down to touch the seas surface off on the horizon. This went on for some time and many passengers were as mesmerised as we were, everyone trying to get that lucky shot of the huge forks with their cameras and phones.

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Rough North Sea

That evening, although the storm had passed there was still a strong easterly wind and the sea state was a high six, meaning white caps everywhere we looked. Fortunately the evening was not without cetaceans though as 3 white beaked dolphins sped towards the ship in perfect formation, definitely in a rush to get somewhere, and they were gone as quickly as they were seen.

The bad weather continued and worsened through Thursday with no sightings in the morning or that evening. Up until this point I had done really well with the weather as I had experienced many mirrors on the waters surface. I think now was my turn to experience the North Sea at its wildest.

By the end of the week we had a handful of extremely brief white beaked dolphin sightings to speak of. Luckily we were visited whilst in port by the excitable year four students of Grace Darling Primary School. The children were greeted on board by the DFDS mascot, Jack the Pirate Parrot and received a full day of activities in the ORCA centre as well as a tour of the ship, visiting the bridge where the captain allowed the bright bunch to sit in the best seat in the house, the captains chair! Lucky them! Schools in the North East of England are welcome to join the ORCA team on board for a day of learning and discovery about the wildlife of the North Sea. If your school or community group would like to join us (no passports required!) then please contact us at wildlifeofficer@orcaweb.org.uk we’d love to have you as our guests.

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Students of Grace Darling Primary School enjoying the KING Seaways

The weekend continued to have terrible weather with strong winds, rain and a lively sea state. Despite this, many species of birds could be seen regularly flying over the water’s surface. Several times large groups of gannets could be seen flying high and then diving in a feeding frenzy. This behaviour usually indicates cetaceans activity but unfortunately no whales, dolphins or porpoises would be seen below the feeding birds, most likely engulfed by the foamy waves.

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A beautiful gannet

I leave this week hoping that the unusual weather leaves us soon and that Julia has a nice week of sightings. Perhaps on our joint crossing together we will be blessed with our usual good luck flat sea which always seem to occur when we sail together. We will keep our fingers crossed. Until next week, thanks again for stopping by.

Lucy

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