Posted by: orcaweb | March 26, 2018

Launch of the 2018 Wildlife Officer Season

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the first blog of the 2018 Wildlife Officer Season!  The North Sea Wildlife Officer programme has finally started, after months of anticipation.

On board the DFDS KING Seaways this spring and summer, you will find myself, Serena Le Double and Kelly De Vries, the new ORCA Wildlife Officers.

Kelly Serena North Sea WOs 2018

2018 North Sea ORCA Wildlife Officers – Serena le Double (left) and Kelly de Vries (right)

Wildlife officer Kelly and I boarded in Ijmuiden on Tuesday, and travelled to Newcastle on our first crossing of the year.  We familiarised ourselves with the ship and got a little lost…but now at least we know our way around the ship!

As you might have heard, the ORCA Wildlife Centre has been moved and therefore over the last few months, work has been going on to completely renew the new centre.  We still have a bit of work to do but are super excited about the progress we have made so far.  This year, you will find the ORCA Wildlife Centre at the front of the ship, between decks 7 and 8.

The observation deck, which is also at the front of the ship right above the new Wildlife Centre at is also getting upgraded with a fresh layer of paint so we will temporarily be conducting our deck watches a bit higher up on deck 10.

On Wednesday, Anna from ORCA boarded the KING Seaways in Newcastle and our Wildlife Officer training commenced.  In the evening, we met the crew, and talked about the duties and responsibilities of being a Wildlife Officer, as well as learning more about the whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife of the North Sea.  Unfortunately, strong winds and rain stopped our first deck watch of the year, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.

We were lucky enough to be invited to an art launch in Ijmuiden on Thursday.  Last summer, the Dutch DFDS team sponsored the Boskalis beach clean, and the ORCA Wildlife Officers took part in this fantastic event.  Artist Klasiena Soepboer has used many of the plastic bottle caps and other plastic items collected to create fantastic intricate clay sculptures moulded to look like bleached corals, which gained their colours from the plastic within, since, as Klasiena stated “plastic is becoming the dominant colour of our ocean”.  You can see these beautiful creations in Ijmuiden Port.

Colours of the sea 10 small

Klasiena Soepboer’s ‘Colours of the Sea’


Colours of the sea1 small

Klasiena Soepboer’s ‘Colours of the Sea’

Colours of the sea7 small

Klasiena Soepboer’s ‘Colours of the Sea’


Serena and Kelly in Ijmuiden Port at the Art Launch Event

Once we had made some great progress with re-designing the ORCA Centre, we did an announcement over the tannoy to inform passengers all about our activities for the evening.  We had a great turnout at our first presentation of the season with over 25 passengers attending the talk – a great start!

On Friday evening, most seats were taken for my first time presenting the ‘Introduction to North Sea Wildlife’ talk.

On Friday evening, as well as Saturday morning, Kelly and I had calm seas on the deck watches but unfortunately didn’t get to see our wonderful cetaceans just yet! We were however accompanied by an arrange of sea birds such as gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes and a greater black backed gull!

On Saturday, Kelly disembarked from her training period so I had to start getting used to running the ORCA activities by myself! Luckily in the evening we had a great turn up for the presentation and I even got a brief visit from the first two harbour porpoise of the North Sea Wildlife Officer season.


North Sea Sunset


Sunday, I had the privilege of witnessing both an amazing sunrise and sunset, the latter accompanied by another two harbour porpoise! When I got back to the centre, a family with two young children were eager to hear all the information I could give about our artefacts (dolphin and porpoise skulls and sperm whale teeth) and whale sizes. You are never too young to be passionate about the ocean and to learn more.


Serena (with a bottlenose dolphin skull) and Kelly (with a sperm whale tooth) in the ORCA Wildlife Centre

But Monday morning has been the best deck watch so far, with sunshine, smooth water and SEVEN harbour porpoise over the span of just 10 minutes! It was amazing.

Please check in regularly to find out what adventures we experience on the North Sea!

Serena – ORCA Wildlife Officer, North Sea

To find out more about ORCA’s work and how you can support us, please visit our website


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