North Sea

Fade to black; NEWT’s North Sea pelagic 11/08/17

by on Aug.12, 2017, under North Sea

As we gathered at Royal Quays for our final 4hr evening pelagic for this year, ahead of our switch to 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ sailings from next Wednesday, there was a stiff breeze, but it was coming off the land so not a great problem for a sailing where we were planning to stay fairly close inshore…

The sea was calmer than it’s been on any of our trips so far this year, but all around the sky was threatening to do something and we did catch the edge of a shower at one point.  Fulmars, Gannets and Kittiwakes passed by, Guillemots were on the water with young and Russ spotted the dorsal fin of a dolphin but it seems to have been on a mission to be elsewhere as it didn’t hang around.

Our final 4hr evening pelagic for 2017 had calm seas, dark clouds and a brief appearance by a dolphin

Our final 4hr evening pelagic for 2017 had calm seas, dark clouds and a brief appearance by a dolphin

Our final 4hr evening pelagic for 2017 had calm seas, dark clouds and a brief appearance by a dolphin

Our final 4hr evening pelagic for 2017 had calm seas, dark clouds and a brief appearance by a dolphin

Our final 4hr evening pelagic for 2017 had calm seas, dark clouds and a brief appearance by a dolphin

That’s it for 4hr evening sailings until next June, but we’ve still got a few places on all of our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ trips.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 to book your place before they’re all gone!

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Somewhere…; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 28/07/17

by on Jul.31, 2017, under North Sea

Friday’s 4hr evening pelagic was just a couple of hours after White-beaked Dolphins had been seen heading north towards the Tyne…

As we came out between the piers we scanned the area to the south of the river.  Nothing obvious that way so we headed north, with a stiffening breeze ruffling the sea surface.  A few of our clients saw their first ever Puffin, Kittiwakes were following us for most of the trip, Gannets soared by on the breeze and a Great Skua put in an appearance.  Our regular pelagic participants say that the best thing about being on a boat off the Northumberland coast on an evening is that you can see the weather in every direction and you just never know what that will bring.  On Friday, before we eventually found a couple of dolphins just off the mouth of the river as we were sailing back in, in the rain and the dark, the sky was little short of spectacular 🙂

Our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagic on 28/07/17 brought blue skies, rain, rainbows, a spectacular sunset and a late appearance by a couple of White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagic on 28/07/17 brought blue skies, rain, rainbows, a spectacular sunset and a late appearance by a couple of White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagic on 28/07/17 brought blue skies, rain, rainbows, a spectacular sunset and a late appearance by a couple of White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagic on 28/07/17 brought blue skies, rain, rainbows, a spectacular sunset and a late appearance by a couple of White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagic on 28/07/17 brought blue skies, rain, rainbows, a spectacular sunset and a late appearance by a couple of White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagic on 28/07/17 brought blue skies, rain, rainbows, a spectacular sunset and a late appearance by a couple of White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagic on 28/07/17 brought blue skies, rain, rainbows, a spectacular sunset and a late appearance by a couple of White-beaked Dolphins.

All of our 4hr evening sailings are fully booked, but we’ve got space on our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ sailings although those are filling fast too.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more info or to reserve your space.

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Dolphins; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 14/07/17

by on Jul.17, 2017, under North Sea

As Martin drove down the coast towards Royal Quays on Friday the sea looked flat and peaceful…an hour later and it was starting to get choppy on a stiff westerly that had sprung from nowhere, but we were still confident that this would be the trip where we started finding White-beaked Dolphins, and that confidence was well-placed 🙂

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

Our 4hr evening pelagic on Friday 14th July produced excellent encounter with one of the mysterious residents of the North Sea off Northumberland - White-beaked Dolphins.

We’ve got a few spaces available on some of our 4hr and 10hr sailings this year; have a look at www.northernexperiencepelagics.co.uk or give us a call on 01670 827465 for more details or to book your place before they’re all filled!

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Pirates of Cullerfornia; NEWT’s North Sea pelagic 12/07/17

by on Jul.14, 2017, under North Sea

Offshore from the small seaside town of Cullercoats, there be pirates…

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

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Bait balls; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 07/07/17

by on Jul.10, 2017, under North Sea

Our second 4hr evening pelagic last week sailed in calmer seas than on Wednesday and we headed north from the Tyne.  Searching for flocks of birds above bait balls of tiny fish we encountered Kittiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Gannet, including a flock that were plunge-diving just off Blyth.  ‘Crazy unexpected wildlife’ award for the evening went to a Hummingbird Hawk-moth that joined us off Blyth and eventually went to roost in the speaker of the boat’s tannoy system 🙂  We finished the evening with a spectacular sunset as we passed St Mary’s Island and flocks of Common Scoter heading north.

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening pelagic trips sail from Royal Quays marina and we search for whales, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds while enjoying spectacular views of the beautiful Northumberland coast

Our 4hr evening sailings are almost all sold out but there are a few places remaining, and we’ve still got availability on our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ sailings in August and September.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more information or to reserve your place

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From the very small to the very large; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 05/07/17

by on Jul.10, 2017, under North Sea

After a couple of weather affected planned sailings we headed out on Wednesday for a 4hr evening pelagic.  There was a long rolling swell as we left the mouth of the Tyne, but that settled as we headed further north and offshore.  As Gannets soared by there were Puffins dotted around and Guillemots with recent fledglings.  Kittiwakes were above bait balls of tiny fish and a Harbour Porpoise was followed soon after by a Minke Whale that was feeding beneath a flock of Gannets before heading across our bow and vanishing into the mysterious deep.  A quiet evening, but two cetaceans in less than ideal viewing conditions wasn’t a bad start 🙂

Our 4hr evening sailings are almost all sold out but there are a few places remaining, and we’ve still got availability on our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ sailings in August and September.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more information or to reserve your place 🙂

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Picnic; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 13/06/17

by on Jun.19, 2017, under North Sea

We started our 2017 pelagic season earlier than usual, with a private booking for Teri’s birthday.  There were some familiar faces on board, including Paul…who was on the first ever NEWT Safari back in January 2008!

By the time we were back at the marina, the volume of cakes, sweets and crisps that had been consumed would put an entire school of small children to shame.  Interspersed between all the cake consumption were flocks of gulls, guillemots and gannets plundering shoals of sandeel and, almost inevitably, some dramatic light over the North Sea 🙂

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Whale Tales of the North Sea 25/03/17

by on Mar.27, 2017, under North Sea

Following an invitation from DFDS, I arrived at the Royal Quays passenger terminal on Saturday morning for the ‘Whale Tales of the North Sea’ event, celebrating 10 years of DFDS and the charity ORCA working together.

I spend part of my time working for MARINElife, but I’ve also been an ORCA member for nearly two decades and NEWT’s involvement with them goes back to 2010. when I led a familiarisation trip for the wildlife officers ahead of their season onboard.  Our own Whale and Dolphin trips during the summer usually pass by one of the Newcastle-IJmuiden ferries, either as we sail out of the Tyne, or return at the end of the day, and the NEWT team enjoyed a mini-cruise to Holland in 2010 as guests of DFDS.  We’d highly recommend it 🙂

Following a packed lunch, Michaela Strachan presented a series of short clips of some of her experiences with whales and dolphins around the world, which kept all of the younger members of the audience entertained.  With only ~90 different species, cetaceans are poorly represented compared to terrestrial mammals (~4200 species), birds (~10000 species) and insects (~1000000 species, with potentially another 5-29000000 million species still to be discovered!).  What they lack in numbers they make up for in sheer size, and some of the film clips demonstrated just how big they are.

Anna Bunney from ORCA gave a presentation about the cetaceans of the North Sea and there we have an even smaller range of species.  Harbour Porpoise, Bottlenose Dolphin, White-beaked Dolphin and Minke Whale are all relatively common, but there’s a range of rarer visitors to the waters of North East England; Risso’s Dolphin, White-sided Dolphin, Killer Whale, Sperm Whale, Pilot Whale and Humpback Whale have all appeared in recent years and historical records contain some real oddities.

Educating people about the wealth of marine wildlife in the North Sea is something that ORCA and DFDS are doing really well, and the data that surveyors are gathering onboard is a valuable resource, combined with the ferry data gathered by MARINElife on other North Sea routes and the small-boat survey data from the North East Cetacean Project in Northumberland.

Many thanks to DFDS for the invitation to join them for the celebration with ORCA 🙂

If you’re not already convinced that our marine wildlife is awesome, here are a few pictures that should speak for themselves 🙂

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Weather window; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 10/09/16

by on Sep.12, 2016, under North Sea

My obsession with the weather forecast tends to intensify whenever we’ve got a pelagic wildlife trip coming up, and even more so when it’s one of our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic’ sailings.  In the far reaches of the Farne Deeps even a fairly benign wind direction like southwesterly (which isn’t a problem in nearshore waters) can produce ‘interesting’ conditions…

I’d been out on Friday carrying out survey work for the North East Cetacean Project, and the southerly wind had piled the sea up into a white-capped deep rolling swell.  Sunday’s forecast was for similar, but Saturday looked as though we’d have a nice weather window 🙂  Heading north from the Tyne we had the wind and the swell behind us, so it was a fairly smooth journey.  By the time we reached the edge of the Farne Deeps, having encountered our first group of White-beaked Dolphins along the way, that swell was up around 1.5-2m.  Then the dolphins started to appear – a group of 10 were joined by more and we’d soon got up to 25 White-beaked Dolphins around us 🙂  At one point we had 11 bow-riding between the hulls, packed together like sardines in a tin, and another ten alongside us.  Eventually they stopped playing and gradually peeled off to return to feeding, just before Anthony spotted a Minke Whale ahead of us…which proved to be two Minkes, an adult and a juvenile.  As we headed back south, with a Harbour Porpoise putting in a typically brief appearance in a flat, glassy calm, sea and odd Sooty Shearwaters added to the day total (which was around 50) Anthony asked me if I would scan the horizon out the east through my binoculars, as he’d seen what looked like very distant splashing.  Sure enough, there were the splashes, which eventually resolved into a group of at least 30 White-beaked Dolphins and a memorable end to a stunning day.

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