Introducing you to Tom, our latest Wildlife Officer Placement in the North Sea! Find out about his busy first week on board!
A busy week back on the North Sea with the summer holidays in full swing means lots of passengers taking part in deck watches, presentations and children taking part in different activities. The walls of the wildlife lounge are starting to fill up with all of the amazing drawings the kids are creating!
As ORCA OceanWatch continued through the week we were joined by an ORCA volunteer survey team on board over the weekend, their valuable work contributing to getting a snapshot of the health of our oceans. On Friday evening as we departed Newcastle a deck watch consisting of a couple of sightings of grey seals was followed by our Underwater Quiz, allowing passengers to test their knowledge all about whales and dolphins.
Later on when chatting to the survey team they informed us they had spotted a minke whale close to the ship, about the time we would have been starting the quiz. We must have been too immersed in the contest to have even noticed! Our luck continued as when we were returning to Newcastle a couple of days later, as we came off effort from our morning deck watch coming into the River Tyne, the survey team informed us they had spotted a few white-beaked dolphins milling around inside the river, mere minutes after we left the observation deck. Oh well, better luck next time …
I have been joined this shift by Wildlife Officer Placement Tom so I will hand over to him to describe how his first week on board has been.
Before coming on board the ship I had no idea what to expect and had many questions. What is life on board like, how busy does it get and would we even see anything? After arriving in Newcastle, meeting Alex and boarding the ship I felt settled very quickly, realising the next couple of weeks would be thoroughly enjoyed. After the first deck watch ending with just a lonely grey seal sighting, I did however still have one question in my mind, do we REALLY have a good chance of seeing anything?
I went to bed that evening, excited for the morning deck watch and the potential for my first cetacean sighting from the ship. As we walked to get breakfast the next morning, Alex explained that harbour porpoise were the most common species near the Dutch coast, but were difficult to see in poor conditions. We looked out to see slightly choppy seas but clear skies, would this be my first cetacean sighting of the placement? During the deck watch we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a small pod of harbour porpoise, and after getting my eye in, I spotted one myself.
After many more watches since, and any questions of sightings put to bed, what I have grown to enjoy the most is the look of excitement on people’s faces when you help them spot what is often their first ever cetacean sighting! I’ve also enjoyed getting involved with running the quiz, of which we’ve had some very busy and lively ones with a great atmosphere throughout the wildlife lounge!
All in all, my first week has been very exciting and enjoyable and I’m looking forward to taking on more in the lounge and seeing what next week brings!
Alex and Tom
ORCA Wildlife Officer and Wildlife Officer Placement – North Sea