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Whales, dolphins and more.

Byline: Sonia Sharma Reporter sonia.sharma@reachplc.com

MORE than 2,000 big fish and other marine wildlife were spotted in the North Sea this summer.

Minke whales, dolphins and seals were among the creatures seen by passengers on-board DFDS ferries travelling between North Shields and Amsterdam.

The ORCA marine conservation charity, which has had a base on the King Seaways vessel for 11 years, says it has had a record summer.

The group has wildlife officers aboard the ship who help to monitor marine life and run educational activities with passengers such as deck watches, games and presentations.

During the 2018 season, more than 35,100 passengers took part in the ORCA programme -10,000 more than last year. In August alone, over 12,680 participated -more than 50% of the total number of participants in 2017.

The sightings this year included: 902 harbour porpoises; 652 acrobatic white-beaked dolphins; 225 grey seals; 30 bottlenose dolphins; 74 minke whales; 23 common dolphins and two long-finned pilot whales.

Anna Bunney, ORCA's education co-ordinator, said: "It's astonishing the level of interest that we've seen in ORCA's partnership with DFDS in 2018 and we're delighted to have beaten our previous records for passenger engagement. The programme in the North Sea gives us an amazing opportunity to talk about our work and show people how rich the waters around the UK and Europe are for wildlife."

Stephen House, DFDS senior campaign manager, said: "Our investment in the new ORCA space has done exactly as we hoped, enabling more of our customers to experience the fantastic ORCA programme that not only helps to educate participants, but gives them some entertainment whilst on board."

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| White-beaked doplphins and minke whales, above, have been spotted

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Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2018
Words:289
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