Posted by: orcaweb | September 5, 2017

Enthusiastic passengers and a massive Thank you!

It has continued to be a rather quiet week for sightings here in the North Sea since last weeks whale encounter! Although Thursday morning did bring us a brief harbor porpoise sighting as we approached Ijmuiden (the port we dock at for Amsterdam). This was reassuring as we were beginning to wonder where our favourite little cetacean had gone!

We have continued, however, to have some fantastic aerial displays. The gannets have continued to fly using the up-draft created by the ship; I’m beginning to think they’re quite vain as it makes for an easy close up picture! We have also seen a few more great skua’s on the North Shields and Ijmuiden side of the crossing. These birds tend to scavenge for food and can be pretty aggressive, we have seen them attacking gulls for their dinner on a few occasions.


Synchronized gannets

The gulls themselves are also rather cheeky as we had a second croissant thief on Saturday morning. The herring gull wasn’t particularly successful only getting the napkin on the first attempt. After a few more failed flybys they gave up, but did allow us to get some great pictures!


Cheeky Herring Gull!

We can also still hear the guillemot chicks on the sea surface, although actually seeing them is a bit more challenging! In my four weeks alone I have seen a big change. The chicks have grown and are now a similar size to their parents and the adults are also showing their winter plumage. This is very similar to the chick’s plumage making it really hard to tell them apart!


Guillemot adult and chick…. but which ones which!?

It has been great talking to the passengers on board the King Seaways and understanding their views on the wildlife and our environment. Some people are in complete awe of everything you tell them and are so enthusiastic about the wildlife and the work of ORCA. I have really enjoyed these encounters and seeing others enthusiasm continues to build my own.

We visited the Dove Marine Laboratory in Cullercoats for an open day on Wednesday. It was really enjoyable to see how interested the locals were about the marine life on their doorstep. Many were not aware of ORCA being onboard the DFDS King Seaways and were really interested to hear of our work and the wildlife that is in their local sea!


Dove Marine Laboratory open day

As well as talking about marine life we have also spoken to passengers about marine litter. I find it interesting to discuss the doom and gloom subject with them. Many people are really positive about the work ORCA is doing.  Some passengers have even apologised for the state in which they have left the planet, and that we have to deal with the aftermath. Other passengers have talked about changes they have made, such as not wearing polyester fleeces, as plastic fibres are washed down the drain to ultimately end up in the sea. Another example is becoming more conscious about eating sustainably, such as not eating farmed salmon because of the huge environmental costs to the surrounding seas. Of course it is really important to educate people about these threats and environmental concerns, but it is not until we take responsibility that change occurs. Have a look at our Make a Small Change page for some inspiration!

I had some expectations about this placement and what I would gain from it. I was looking forward to understanding more about life in the North Sea, and engaging with passengers. I was quite nervous about the presentations but am really pleased that I have had the opportunity to develop in this area and am now really enjoying giving them. It is always a good thing to expand your comfort zone and my confidence has definitely grown throughout this experience.


Harry the harbour porpoise is always a crowd pleaser!

Coming to the end of these four weeks I definitely have a greater knowledge, sense of achievement and fulfillment than I could have hoped for. Something I didn’t expect was to gain such a sense of responsibility and I am so excited for my future career in this area and to make a difference. This has all been down to Julia and Lucy, thank you so much for giving me a great few weeks! I’m also looking forward to attending the Marine Mammal Surveyor course so that I can continue to support and contribute to ORCA’s fantastic work in the future!

Thank you so much for a really fantastic experience!!

Charlie – Wildlife Officer Placement


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