Posted by: orcaweb | August 17, 2017

Charlie and the Croissant Theif

As the end of the Wildlife Officer season begins to creep closer we invite on-board our final placement for this year. Charlie joins us from Cambridge and is looking to gain valuable experience in marine conservation to specialise in a career for ocean protection following the completion of his biology degree. The first lesson that Charlie learnt was that the weather at sea doesn’t always working in our favour. Venturing out to the observation deck, heavy rain made it almost impossible to even keep our eyes open let alone spot and whales or dolphins. Flying close to the ship however, undeterred by the rain were gannets, fulmars and even a Manx shearwater.



If you have read the blogs from the last two weeks you will know that a great skua has been sighted at the Ijmuiden end of the journey repeatedly. We were lucky enough to see this impressive bird again this week. Whether it is the same individual prowling the area is uncertain because this species will form small flocks. Either way it is always one of my favourite birds to see and a nice addition to our ever growing bird list.

As the water depth closer to the Netherlands is extremely shallow (10-20 metres), we usually expect harbour porpoise and seals in this area. So you can imagine how excited we were to see on Wednesday in these shallow waters a large splash on the horizon, too large to be a fish or a porpoise this splash appeared three times before it’s owner disappeared. Being so far away we were unable to establish what it was as only the white water it created was visible. Proving again how mysterious and unpredictable the sea can truly be.

By Thursday, Charlie was very eager to get his eyes on some cetaceans and as we sailed back towards North Shields.  Both myself, Charlie and the passengers outside with us were delighted to see a Minke whale surface three times at a nice slow and relaxed pace. Minke whales generally reach a maximum length of 10 metres which is small in whale terms. This minke whale however looked even smaller than this so may have been a juvenile or sub adult on one of its first migrations towards the Arctic.


Charlie looking our for whales and dolphins

Friday morning brought with it a great amount of laughs for all outside on the observation deck. A herring gull had perched itself on the ledge above us, I was curious as to what it was up to as we rarely see birds landing here. It was soon clear that we were now the ones being watched. After a few moments of watching the gull, watching us, it swooped down, landed on a ladies head and stole her chocolate croissant right out of her hands. If this wasn’t bad enough, it then took up a spot on the bow right in front of the robbed passenger and wolfed the croissant down whole as if showing off its victory.


The greedy gull eyeing up the prize


The theif enjoying its stolen breakfast

Later that evening whilst recalling the mornings hilarity we saw a sight that soon brought us all down to earth. A gannet flew above our heads, nice and close but as we watched in awe as the majestic bird soared gracefully, we noticed a fishing line trailing behind it. This poor bird then frantically shook its head, digging its beak into its breast feathers in an attempt shake off the fishing line. A reminder of the negative impacts of our interactions with the sea.

Fishing Line

A Gannet with fishing line trailing behind it

The weekend soon came around and we were treated to several harbour porpoise and a great diving performance from a huge flock of gannets. Always impressive to see and a regular sighting for us at this time of the year in the North Sea.


Diving Gannets ahead of the ship. An increasingly common sight as we sail towards North Shields

Thanks again for stopping by and please do come back next week to see how Charlie has been getting on on-board our floating home the King Seaways.



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