Hello, I’m Amy and I’m one of ORCA's Ocean Conservationists. This summer I was fortunate to be on both of Ambassador’s multigenerational cruises going to Norway and the Mediterranean with my teammate Abi. As with all cruises, we were excited to have a chance to spot an incredible variety of cetaceans but even more so, to have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of marine conservationists!
A family favourite workshop during the cruises was “How big is a Blue whale’s tongue?” which gave guests of all ages the chance to guess just how big they thought several different whales and dolphins are. We enjoyed seeing people’s reactions when they found out that many species were even bigger than they first thought; particularly the blue whale – the largest animal to have ever lived (33m in length). Fortunately, we could just about fit an adult blue whale in our workshop venue.
Over the length of the cruises our guests became cetacean ID experts and knowledgeable conservationists, even getting to see some conservation work in action. In Norway, we encountered some discarded fishing line and wire on the shoreline off one of the fjords. Abi had discussed the dangers of discarded rubbish polluting the ocean and posing a risk to marine life only the day before, so it was fresh in people’s minds. As is shown in the image below, there was a significant amount of discarded line and even several fishing hooks which could have washed out on the next high tide. Fortunately, we disposed of it safely and it was great to be able to show everyone how everyone can play their part in conservation, through keeping their local beaches and waterways rubbish free!
MS Ambience has a fantastic Partnership lounge, which houses an impressive range of cetacean artefacts such as bone clones and information about ORCA and our work. These replicas included a killer whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin and harbour porpoise skull along with several other fascinating pieces. ‘Seaweed’ the life size common dolphin replica also calls the Partnership lounge home and came out for the guests to interact with during lectures and workshops. Everyone enjoyed getting the chance to have photos (and of course a few selfies) with Seaweed. Even adults were keen to get up-close to the skulls to really see the differences between them, especially their teeth and size.
All the guests that joined us up on our deck watches were fabulous but a special thanks must go out to our junior spotting volunteers as they were incredibly talented at spotting animals, sometimes even before the adults! One young woman pointed out a bait ball and a dolphin pod near the ship to other guests; having those extra-skilled eyes on the water is paramount in data collecting; thus, cetacean conservation. It was impressive to see how passengers went from not realising what wildlife was along the route, to becoming wildlife spotting experts. Through coming to our workshops, lectures, and deck watches, they were able to learn valuable conservation skills. Who knows, perhaps we met some future Ocean Conservationists or marine biologists during these cruises?
One of the most rewarding aspects of working for ORCA is to inspire a passion for the beautiful marine world and its many enigmatic inhabitants amongst the younger guests on board, a rare opportunity to engage with so many children from all different places in one go! For many guests it was their first-time seeing cetaceans in person or the wild. Seeing people’s faces, both young and slightly less young, light up as they watched dolphins leap around the ship or rushing over to spot a whale’s blow on the horizon is beautiful to witness and one of the highlights of being able to work as an Ocean Conservationist. This is what lies at the heart of ORCAs work and long may it continue…
I hope everyone had a fantastic time on Ambassador’s multigenerational cruises this summer, and a big thank you to the entire Ambience team for welcoming us onboard. The ORCA team certainly enjoyed getting to meet all of the guests and to engage and hopefully inspire a love for the natural world and its many stunning inhabitants.