An interactive art display has been unveiled onboard DFDS’ King Seaways to celebrate five years of working with whale and dolphin charity ORCA.
The art display depicts a view of the North Sea, the River Tyne and other local landmarks, created by local artist Fiona Dunn.
Schoolchildren from the region attended the unveiling to add their own drawings of marine wildlife and the threats wildlife face to the display.
The art will become part of the onboard wildlife centre activities designed for passengers travelling with DFDS Seaways.
ORCA wildlife officer Sara Frost said: “The artwork is a great addition to the onboard wildlife centre and is something we can continue to build on with the passengers.
“It’s the perfect visual reminder of the fantastic wildlife living in the North Sea and the dangers they face from human activities.”
This project is the latest collaboration from DFDS Seaways and ORCA, which run several joint initiatives, including the Marine Wildlife mini cruises to Amsterdam.
The wildlife mini cruises include a range of fun and educational activities and deck watches with professional wildlife officers from ORCA.
DFDS Seaways also provides free travel from Newcastle to Amsterdam to ORCA volunteers conducting vital monthly marine mammal surveys along the route and support the Your Seas outreach project which engages with local schools in the region.
Since working together, ORCA has recorded over 400 sightings of around 830 marine mammals from DFDS Seaways’ cruise ferries, King Seaways, Princess Seaways and Sirena Seaways.
A further 175 sightings of over 260 marine mammals have been spotted by onboard wildlife officers carrying out deck watches with passengers.
Around nine different species have been spotted, including Harbour porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Minke whales and grey seals.
Max Foster, UK passenger director at DFDS Seaways, said: “We strongly believe in the importance of protecting the marine environment in which we operate, which is why we have chosen to work with ORCA to help raise awareness of the fascinating and diverse marine life that can be found in the North Sea, and also why we fund the wildlife officers who work onboard KING SEAWAYS from April to mid September.”
The data collected on the surveys and during casual sightings from passenger deck watches all goes towards assisting the UK Government to meet it monitoring obligations for whales and dolphins under the EU Habitats Directive.
The data also feeds into the Government’s Joint Cetacean Protocol initiative, which monitors distribution, abundance and population trends of the cetacean species.
For further information about DFDS Seaways and ORCA or to book a Marine Wildlife mini cruise visit www.dfds.co.uk/ORCA or call 0871 522 9976.