Tuesday, 29 May 2012

So Where Have I Been?

Well most recently, between 14th –21st May, I have been to Norway on a SAGA cruise. Actually i’m not quite eligible to officially join as a cruise guest just yet but I managed to get a place as part of an Organisation Cetacea (ORCA), survey team on the lookout for cetaceans. In fact SAGA and ORCA have built up a good relationship that allows ORCA survey teams aboard providing a welcome additional wildlife aspect to their cruises and giving ORCA much needed extra survey data. So both parties benefit.
The ship is called the Quest For Adventure and a good size vessel she is too.
Whilst we are there to survey for marine wildlife it is an important part of the role to get involved in other aspects of the cruise and ensure we engage with the other guests. So with best formal frocks and suits on, I’ll introduce the survey team. Me, Cheryl, Debbie and Steve, what a fine bunch.
So off to Norway but the weather conditions are not that good for cetaceans but we do manage to see a couple of harbour porpoises and a few puffins.
The first stop was Bergen , a major port for the support of the oil industry.
This ship looks like a seismic survey vessel, used for finding gas and oil fields, potentially not good news for cetaceans. In fact it’s an anchor handling tug, still looks very odd though.
Part of our role is to also help out being additional guides on excursions, which is good fun and allows us to see some of the local colour. The funicular railway gets you on your way to Mount Floyen .
The view from the top.
During World War II Bergen being occupied by the Germans hosted U-boats and you can still see the formidable old concrete pens in the harbour.
Next day saw us further north at the more picturesque village of Flam.
Certainly a more pastoral feel to the local farming practice leading to fields full of wild flowers, these being ladies smock.
Some of the more common garden birds
Marsh Tit
Pied Flycatcher
White Wagtail
There were also some cute local residents.
Some of the team got a bit stuck trying to get up close to a local waterfall.
The next day we were at Skjolden, the scenic Sognefjell Mountain pass and the Sognelfjord.
Some of the local reindeer.
The trip along the Sognelfjord gave us our first chance to see harbour porpoise in good calm conditions.
That days sunset was particularly special.
Our last day in Norway was at Stavangar, once again we were able to join in as additional escorts on some of the excursions. One of which went through the old part of the town which still has 130 preserved buildings from the late 1700s and mid 1800s.
The impressive Hafrsfjord monument ‘Swords in the Stone’ is thought to be where the viking king Harald I defeated the last of regional princes and started the unification of Norway.
Our last day at sea travelling back to Dover actually gave us an incredible sea state 1 which allowed us to record over 30 harbour porpoises and 7 minke whales. The sunset was superb and a fitting end to the trip.
A great trip and team, the crew of the Quest looked after us very well.


Mel Lloyd said...

Sounds like a great trip. The Bourbon Orca looks very futuristic. I Googled it and it says it's a anchor handling tug to supply the oil and gas industry in the North Sea. I guess it looks a little bit like an Orca?

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