The start of the school means our English Channel Wildlife Officer programme is coming to a close for another year!
And I am back again at the end of this thirteenth week on-board DFDS Transmanche ferries between Dieppe and Newhaven. You can feel the start of the new school year being just around the corner. All passengers are going back home, starting work in a day or two, and once again the vibes on-board have turned compared to the excitement that July and August brought.
Despite the end of summer, passengers came in high numbers this week to my talks! I am delighted to see once again how aware children are about the marine wildlife and the different human-related threats it faces, a massive congratulations to all of you wherever you are in the world! I remember two specific questions that were asked, one being “what is your favourite sea animal?”, a first in three months, and the answer of course is killer whales or orcas. When I started learning about their social structures, cultural heritage, communication skills and social behaviours, I realized how intelligent they are and how fascinating. The second question was “how did you manage to do this job?” and it made me laugh because personally, it is a passion before it is a job. That would honestly be my go-to response to anyone interested in going in the field; make sure you love doing it, then it is pure joy!
Even weather-wise, it feels like the summer is gone… the temperatures have dropped, it is windier and the sea state is back to a good 4 or 5 most of the week. On the good days though, a few passengers spotted seals several times throughout the crossing. Crew and Officers confirmed seeing some as well. There are two species in the English Channel, which I am sure, most of you are familiar with; we have the grey seal and the common or harbour seal. They are very easy to distinguish as grey seals have a dog-like face, whereas common seals have a cat-like face. When spotted on land, they haul out as colonies or as solitary animals, and I would advise keeping a safe distance from them, for their and your own safety. Indeed, a single bite would be very infected and require immediate medical assistance. While in the water, they are usually very curious starring at us with big eyes and with only their head on the surface as they are suspended in the water. They manage to swim far away from land as one was spotted in the middle of the rail.
The start of the school year also brings the end of this programme for this year! As the crew and officers work on a 2-week shift basis, I have started to say goodbye to many of them unfortunately… and I only have one week left! If you are travelling on this route in the next five days, come see me before it is too late to learn about whales and dolphins!
See you later alligators!
ORCA Wildlife Officer - The English Channel