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Through its wildlife watching experience for passengers, the award-winning ferry company DFDS has contributed to vital data for the latest report by the marine conservation charity ORCA.
ORCA relies on volunteers to gather information and for the past 14 years, DFDS has worked in partnership with it on its North Sea route between Newcastle and Amsterdam, as well as routes across the English Channel.
An army of volunteer passengers, led by ORCA’s trained wildlife officers, keep watch from the decks of the King Seaways ship on the North Sea as it sails between the UK and the Netherlands, and the Seven Sisters and Côte d’Albâtre that sail on the Newhaven-Dieppe route on the English Channel.
The citizen scientists on ferries are helping ORCA to improve the protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises within UK and European waters.
ORCA’s ‘The State of European Cetaceans 2019’ is the fourth in a series of annual reports. In it ORCA recorded 4,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises (known as “cetaceans”) seen from the UK ferry network. Over five years, ORCA Wildlife Officers recorded 79,764 animals, 75,544 of which were cetaceans. Twenty cetacean species have been identified.
ORCA surveyors reported a record number of cetacean encounters in 2018. Most sightings were recorded on the Newcastle-Amsterdam route (226 encounters), predominantly consisting of harbour porpoises (165), white-beaked dolphins (37) and minke whales (17).
There are clear hotspots for harbour porpoises in the North Sea. The majority of white-beaked dolphins, who prefer cooler waters, have been recorded on the north-west side of the North Sea. Minke whales were encountered at much higher rates in northern areas, along the Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire coasts.
ORCA’s offshore monitoring programme relies on its network of volunteer Marine Mammal Surveyors. Volunteers are trained to become Marine Mammal Surveyors and join survey teams on board the ferry network giving people from all walks of life the opportunity to take an active role in marine science and conservation.
Wildlife Officers live on board ferries, providing educational content to passengers and collecting data, often every day for the entire season.
The State of European Cetaceans reports demonstrate why ongoing, regular monitoring of cetaceans is vital to make effective and informed decisions about the protection that whales and dolphins urgently need. Using ferry and cruise platforms is a highly effective tool to estimate the density, distribution and range of these animals in near real-time so that worrying patterns can be identified early.
For passengers wanting to enjoy free wildlife watching and educational experiences onboard, join the wildlife officers from 13th March on King Seaways on the Newcastle Amsterdam route and from 6th May (not all sailings) on both Cote d’Albâtre and Seven Sisters on the Newhaven Dieppe route.
If you would like to join a wildlife cruise to see the work carried out by the DFDS volunteers and find out more about the monitoring programme, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
ORCA is a UK whale and dolphin conservation charity dedicated to the long-term protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) and their habitats in UK and European waters.
ORCA is committed to the conservation of cetaceans through evidence-based science. Long-term monitoring has accumulated a large dataset covering a wide area, allowing spatial and temporal trends to be investigated. These data are analysed in-house and by postgraduate students at a variety of universities to explore changes in distribution, population dynamics and densities.
DFDS is Northern Europe’s largest integrated shipping and logistics company, with a network of around 30 routes and 50 freight and passenger ships.
DFDS prides itself on offering world-class facilities and services and the widest choice of ferry routes into northern Europe.
In the UK, the company operates passenger ferry services on routes from Dover to Calais, Dover to Dunkirk, Newcastle to Amsterdam and Newhaven to Dieppe.
DFDS has been named ‘Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator’ for eight years running (2012-2019), as well as the ‘World’s Leading Ferry Operator’ for the last nine years (2011-19).
DFDS currently operates up to 54 sailings a day between Dover and France on its Dover-Dunkirk and Dover-Calais routes. DFDS also offers two daily sailings between Newcastle and Amsterdam. In addition, the DFDS network includes a passenger and freight service between Newhaven to Dieppe, which has four daily sailings and is operated by Transmanche Ferries.
For further information about DFDS, or to find out about the latest sailing times, fares and offers across all routes from the UK, visit https://www.dfds.com/en-gb/passenger-ferries