Posted by: orcaweb | September 12, 2017

Winter is coming!

Arriving on Tuesday morning I was happy to hear that Charlie had seen white-beaked dolphins on the mornings’ sail in, giving him a good send off for the end of his Wildlife Officer placement. Charlie was the last of our placements for this year and what a great year it has been for them all. I’d like to personally thank Lexie, Paul, Beccy and Charlie for all of their hard work. Not only do they help to make our programme on-board so fulfilling but they all brought their own style and skills to the role that they undertook at sea for four weeks. If you or someone you know might be interested in joining us in the North Sea again next year please keep an eye on our website and social media. We should be opening applications for placements again in the New Year so keep your eyes peeled.

As I embarked with Julia, I was hopeful of sightings that evening and we were not left disappointed. Unidentified dolphins splashing in the distance, a couple of harbour porpoise near the bow and not one, not two, but three minke whales!  This made for a really great deck watch and a fantastic start to my next two weeks on-board. The sun began to set so we headed back in and even though the daylight was fading several passengers came into the centre to advise us they had seen large dark animals with small fins, more minkes were on the move.

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Things started off rather picturesque this week

The following day as Julia disembarked in Ijmuiden the weather had worsened and it is fair to say the summer has ended here in the North Sea. A heavy sea state meant no cetaceans were spotted on either deck watches. Gulls, gannets and skuas were all around though, always undeterred by the wild gales that can often sweep through. Due to the rapidly decreasing temperature I was alone for most of Thursdays morning deck watch however I never felt alone. Above my head were at least 20 gannets all soaring high, using the uplift from the ship to save their energy. I was grateful for their company and enjoying watching their swift movements as we returned to North Shields.  The following evening the weather worsened when the cold winds were joined by a heavy downpour of rain. It is definitely advisable to wear warm waterproof clothing should you be joining us out on deck! By Friday the sky had become so grey that the scenery looked like a black and white photograph and the evening was worse yet with the deck being so windy and rain coming in at a 90 degree angle that the deck watch had to be cancelled.

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Ijmuiden just in sight on a very grey day

Saturday thankfully the skies had brightened although there was still a lot of white water. Pleased to get into the safety of the River Tyne, I was thrilled to see a large grey seal swimming calmly by.

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A grey seal in the mouth of the river Tyne

By the end of the week, we were experiencing gale for seven winds and deck watches were getting more and more difficult. When in the centre I had to secure any loose items to ensure nothing fell and many passengers had retired to their cabins to sleep off the heavy swell.

With just one more full week left on-board for myself I am hoping the rough weather will subside just long enough for me to get in some really great sightings. Please come back next week with fingers crossed to see how I get on!

Lucy

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