The Start of the 2017 ORCA Season onboard King Seaways

May 19, 2017

The ORCA wildlife season for 2017 has officially begun and what a great start it has been. The season this year is being run by Lucy McLeod (Senior Wildlife officer) & Julia Kestler (Junior Wildlife Officer) both of whom are really excited for the season ahead and everything they have planned for the guests of King Seaways. If you’re planning to travel with DFDS onboard King Seaways, why not pay them a visit in the ORCA wildlife centre on Deck 9, where they will be more than happy to tell you all about their recent sightings.

This year marked two very special events, the launch of ORCAs ‘State of European Cetaceans’ report and our ten year anniversary with DFDS. To commemorate the event the ORCA and DFDS team were joined by the BBC’s Michaela Strachan for a one off event onboard the ship whilst in port at North Shields. This special event was attended by over 200 guests including some of ORCA’s longest standing supporters, wildlife enthusiasts and families from the local community, eager to learn more about the wildlife on their doorstep.

With the event proving to be a major success, the season officially began, and Lucy remained on the ship for her first two weeks living onboard, looking out for whales and dolphins. Lucy and Julia have rotating shifts of two weeks at a time, so you will always catch one of them onboard. On rare occasions you may be lucky enough to catch them both onboard at the same time! Whilst on the ship they are mainly situated in the ORCA wildlife centre on Deck 9. This is an extremely unique facility, no other large passenger ferry in Europe, or perhaps even the world has a centre for the purpose of environmental education and entertainment.

Within the centre you can hear talks and enjoy presentations on the wildlife of the North Sea, as well as joining in with children’s activities that are fun for all the family. ORCA aims to teach everyone great facts about wonderful whales and dolphins, especially the ones you might even be able to spot yourselves. If you just want to relax, most evenings you can join the wildlife officers for a documentary on whales, dolphins and porpoises. There’s lots to do and learn onboard with ORCA.

As well as the wildlife centre, the ORCA team can also be found outside on the observation deck. This is right at the front of the ship between decks 8 and 9, overlooking the bow and gives a great view of the sea ahead. It can get quite chilly, so if you’re interested in the opportunity of seeing some whales, dolphins, porpoise and the vast array of seabirds the North Sea has to offer, please wrap up warm, it’s a much more enjoyable experience if your teeth aren’t chattering away!

So far this season, Lucy and Julia have seen several porpoise, a white beaked dolphin and several seals. The bird life is also really hotting up as many species are travelling through on their seasonal migrations, including the beautiful Puffins!

As this blog post goes live we have already engaged with over 4000 passengers sailing between Newcastle and Amsterdam and we have seen nearly 50 cetaceans (whales, dolphins and Porpoises) whilst out on deck.  There are so many fun activities you can get involved with including arts and crafts, games, presentations and lectures as well as the deck watches where hopefully you might see some amazing wildlife in their natural habitat. So please do pop into the ORCA Wildlife centre any time you set sail on the wonderful King Seaways.

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