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A Summer Sailing the North Sea



whale and dolphin

After finishing my masters degree in Marine Biology last November, in March this year I began working for the whale and dolphin charity ORCA (Organisation Cetacea). ORCA have been working with international ferry operator DFDS Seaways by placing Wildlife Officers on-board the DFDS King Seaways for nine years in an effort to educate passengers about and survey the wildlife rich waters of the North Sea. This is the second season I have worked for ORCA; in the spring of 2014 I spent three months in a voluntary capacity on a Brittany Ferries ship in the Bay of Biscay.

whale and dolphin

Surveying from the DFDS King Seaways.

This year working on the King Seaways travelling between Newcastle and Amsterdam I was the Senior Wildlife Officer. Alongside running the Wildlife Centre on-board, I was also responsible for the training of our Wildlife Officer Placement Volunteers who ranged from recent graduates to those looking at changing careers.

My favourite part of my job had to have been providing opportunities for passengers to see their first whale or dolphin! Seeing someone’s reaction when they spot their first whale or dolphin is very special, even more so when they never expected to see an animal in the North Sea.

whale and dolphin

Passengers looking out for whales and dolphins.

A large proportion of the general public do not realise the extent of wildlife that can be observed in the North Sea. This isn’t just our magnificent whales and dolphins but a whole variety of bird life can also be spotted while sailing.

whale and dolphin

A gannet, one of our most commonly spotted bird species in the North Sea.

Since 2007 on our route between Newcastle and Amsterdam 10 species of cetacean have been positively identified, ranging from the tiny harbour porpoise to the second largest animal on the planet; the mighty fin whale. The three most common species that we spot however are the harbour porpoise, white-beaked dolphin and minke whale. Also this year we have seen bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Atlantic white-sided dolphins!

whale and dolphin

School students learning about the array of wildlife in the North Sea.

With the crossing being overnight we spend a lot of our time in the ORCA Wildlife Centre located on the ship. This for me is a wonderful space. It allows us to provide a wide range of  fun and engaging environmental education for  all passengers from 2 to 102 about North Sea wildlife and the marine environment with plenty of audience participation.

I have said my favourite part of this job is watching people’s faces light up with excitement when they first spot a whale or dolphin. A close second would be the dawn of understanding on a child’s face when they learn something new about our oceans. whether that be through conversation, games, or experimentation!

A brilliant new addition to the ORCA Wildlife Centre this year was ‘Debris’ the Marine Litter Porpoise! Created entirely out of rubbish that we collected from beaches around the North East coastline during early Spring this year. Debris is entirely made from the litter collected… no wire frame, or hollow inside; in fact the only thing on her not cleared from beaches is the glue holding her together! I love her, and she makes such an impact to everyone that sees her! She is a life size  harbour porpoise. When people first look at her their response is “oh look at the multicoloured porpoise”… they then look a bit closet and start to realise what she is made of. I like to describe her as beautiful, yet terrifying. This is a unique and beautiful piece of art created by an environmental marine artist, writer, teacher and TV presenter Izzy Moreau. This may be a beautiful piece of art, but also a terrifying piece of art when you start to realise the quantity and variety of litter that ‘Debris’ is created from!

whale and dolphin

‘Debris’ the Marine Litter Porpoise in the Wildlife Centre on-board the DFDS King Seaways.

I have loved being out at sea this year and can’t wait to get back out to sea again soon! If you fancy reading more about my time on-board the DFDS King Seaways this summer you can read ORCA’s North Sea blog here.

Do you fancy getting involved? You can find out more about ORCA’s work and how you could get involved here.

Kerry Heseltine has a Masters degree in Marine Biology and is a passionate diver and diving instructor. She has dived all over the world, from the UK to the Caribbean, with a list of places to visit currently getting longer rather than shorter. She spends the majority of her time working in Marine Conservation Education teaching anyone interested in the oceans. She has worked in the British Virgin Islands for Odyssey Expeditions, at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, and is currently a Wildlife Officer for ORCA (Organisation Cetacea) in the Bay of Biscay and North Sea. Follow Kerry on Twitter: @KerryHeseltine

Gear News

Gear Maintenance Episode 4: Backplate and Harness Sponsored by Dive Rite (Watch Video)



Welcome to Gear Maintenance! In this episode I’m showing you how to bring an old, tattered backplate and harness back to life and giving you tips on how you can look after your scuba diving gear.

If you want to support Divers Ready! (for free!) support our sponsor for this series of videos: Dive Rite

To enter to win the XT Lite Backplate and Basic Harness from Dive Rite, you need to:

  1. Subscribe to Divers Ready! if you haven’t already:
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When a scuba diver switches from a jacket BCD to a Backplate, Harness and Wing system, it can be very hard to switch back! We’ve packed this video full of hints and tips covering storage, protection, cleaning and maintenance to help you protect the investment you’ve made in your dive equipment.

Good luck to everyone! D.S.D.O James

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Liquid Sports announce NEW colours of Hollis F1 LT Fin now in stock



Liquid Sports has announced that the NEW Colours of the Hollis F1 LT fin are now in stock at LS warehouse and ready to ship.

Already available in Grey, the NEW White & Yellow Hollis F1 LT fins have the following features:

• Short blade for easier finning in confined spaces
• Angled strap mounts for comfort & a better transition of power
• Spring heel straps with easy-grip heel tab
• Multiple strap mounting positions for a fine tuned fit
• Vented blade reduces stress while accelerating water over blade
• Generous foot pocket

F1 LT Yellow RRP £139.95 – Product code: 214.2207.xx 

F1 LT White RRP £139.95 – Product code: 214.2211.xx 

For more information visit the Liquid Sports website by clicking here.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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