Norfolk tour boss's adventure to find rare wildlife

Victoria LeggettA Sheringham tour operator is set to lead what is thought to be the first-ever public expedition to Dogger Bank to reveal the rare and exciting wildlife found there.Victoria Leggett

A Sheringham tour operator is to lead what is thought to be the first-ever public expedition to Dogger Bank to reveal the rare and exciting wildlife found there.

Carl Chapman, who runs Wildlife Tours and Education, has organised the trip to the sandbank off the north Norfolk coast later this year because he fears the many creatures living there could soon be lost.

Early plans are in place to create a windfarm in the area and the keen bird watcher wants to make the most of the wildlife before the developers move in.

He said: 'Who knows what will happen - it's an undetermined factor - but it isn't going to be positive, is it? This trip is really something that has to be done now.'

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In August, a fishing boat packed with nature lovers and bird watchers will leave Whitby, Yorkshire, to head out to Dogger Bank - a raised sandbank beneath the North Sea.

Leaving at 11.30pm, the 80ft ex-naval ship The Chieftain will travel through the night to ensure passengers make the most of the daylight once they complete the 80-mile journey.

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Mr Chapman said fishermen, who were usually the only people out there, had reported some stunning sightings.

He said: 'We are hoping to see something a little bit different - bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises.

'Two years ago the fishermen reported seeing 200 minke whales all feeding together.

'We can't guarantee sightings - it's not wildlife on a stick or a zoo. Reports suggest a high chance of seeing rare and exciting birds and sea life.

'But even scientific research in the region has been limited, so we really don't know what we may find.'

The tour company owner, who set up the business last year after being made redundant as a bank manager, said he believed it was the first time a public expedition to Dogger Bank had been organised.

'There is a decent amount written about it following different surveys carried out there, but nobody has ever done a trip out here for the paying public,' he said.

The rare opportunity was booked up within hours of the trip being confirmed and, if it proves a success, Mr Chapman hopes to run more trips in the future.

He added: 'We must take as many opportunities as possible to run expeditions there before it becomes an offshore windfarm.'

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