ORCA:Meet Mathilde, ocean conservationist onboard King Seaways

May 20, 2022

Hi Mathilde. We are happy to meet you and are curious about your experiences during your first months on our ship “KING Seaways”. We are interested and have some questions about your job as an Ocean Conservationist.   

Hello, My name is Mathilde, I am from the Netherlands and I have been an Ocean Conservationist since February 2022 and started on the King Seaways in March 2022.  

Why and how did you become an ocean conservationist? 

 I have always loved whales and dolphins, I studied coastal and marine management, and through my internships I gained experience in whale research. And I knew I wanted to work and help protect whales and dolphins. 

So, when I saw a vacancy to become a North Sea wildlife officer in late 2019, I immediately applied and got the job. I had my wildlife officer training in February 2020 and was supposed to start on King in March 2020, then obviously the pandemic started and the position got postponed. Then the name of the position changed into what it is now: Ocean Conservationist.  

What marine life is possible to see on the Amsterdam – Newcastle route? 

There are four main species of cetaceans that can be seen in the North Sea from King Seaways: On both the UK side and the Dutch we have the harbour porpoise, which is a small species and closely related to dolphins and whales. There are two dolphin species in the North Sea, the bottlenose dolphin and the white-beaked dolphin. Both these species are highly energetic and can be seen jumping out of the sea if you are lucky. Finally, we have one whale species that can be seen in the summer months in the North Sea, the minke whale. The minke whale is the smallest baleen whale species and can reach a length of 10 meters.  

Besides these four cetacean species, we could see grey and common seals. Many seabird species like the majestic northern gannet, puffin, razorbill, guillemot, northern fulmar, terns and many more.  

What’s your favourite marine life that you’ve spotted whilst on King Seaways and why is it your favourite? 

Honestly I love all of the species of cetacean that we can see in the North Sea. As I am Dutch I do have a soft spot for the harbour porpoise, as it is the only species resident to the Dutch coast. I do love the white-beaked dolphin as well with its dark curved dorsal fin. Besides these two, I always got to love a northern gannet soaring through the sky and of course the puffin with its bright orange legs and colourful beak. 

What is your favourite part of your job and why?  

My favourite part is doing the deck watches together with passengers, especially when these passengers are very eager to look out for some whales, dolphins and porpoises.  

Why is it important to have ocean conservationists onboard King Seaways? 

It is important to help monitor the whales, dolphins and porpoises. As ORCA has done this monitoring on King Seaways since 2009 we can really keep an eye out for the health of the cetaceans in the North Sea. Another large part of our job is to educate passengers about these amazing animals that live in our seas and oceans but also to help these same passengers to watch for the whales and dolphins during our crossing.  

What is your favourite thing about being onboard King? 

I really love watching the sunset and sunrise from the ship. It is also great to see how passengers really enjoy being out at sea and you can tell when they start to unwind and really relax it is of course a great way to both start and end an holiday. 

How long will you be onboard King – what season is it possible to see marine life on this route? 

We are on the ship from March until the end of September. Throughout this time we will be able to see the harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and white-beaked dolphins. From May until August there is a possibility of minke whales. 

What is one fun fact about yourself?  

I like to take photos of nature and wildlife. When I am not working you might be able to find me in a nature reserve for a walk and taking photos.   

Mathilde hopes that you will come and join us on our watch and help us protect the whales, dolphins and porpoises of the North Sea. Visit the wildlife lounge onboard King Seaways for more information about these wonderful animals! Book your crossing to Amsterdam here or go on the Wildlife mini cruise and meet Mathilde onboard. 

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