It’s the end of the first week of Wildlife Officer-ing on the Pont Aven – and what a week it’s been!
Our first morning of surveying was a cold start, but by that afternoon we had reached the glorious Bay of Biscay and were greeted by a handful of cheery common dolphins that had come to say hello.
Passengers on board were quick to tell us about all the incredible wildlife they had seen that day, include a basking shark next to the ship and plenty of whale spouts – but sadly we missed all of them!
The weekend didn’t bring any more luck, with no sightings between Roscoff, Plymouth and Cork – but on returning to the Bay of Biscay on Monday morning, the common dolphins were waiting for us and we even saw what we think might have been a beaked whale. We also spotted some Great Skuas, large seabirds that are known for their aggressive behaviour as they often attack other birds!
Monday evening brought some adventure with it – due to a malfunction with the ship just after leaving Santander, we had to travel far slower than normal. While this caused some delays to our journey, it did mean that we spent far longer in the Biscay, right over the deep-sea canyons and deep pelagic ocean, which are prime whale and dolphin spotting territory. As we crawled along, we were kept company by over 50 common dolphins for several hours, and even saw two whale blows in the distance! Accompanied with a beautiful sunset, it was the perfect end to the week.
What struck me most about my first week was how wonderful the passengers on board are, and how passionate they are about marine life. We spent hours on deck chatting to so many people from all walks of life. While our job is to inspire others, this week I felt inspired by them – knowing how many people care about our marine wildlife was the highlight of my week.
Question of the week: “Have you ever seen a Sperm Whale fighting with a Giant Squid?” - Unfortunately not, as this tends to happen at the bottom of the deep-sea trenches, and we don’t have a submarine!
Fun fact of the week: The Sperm Whale is the largest toothed whale, and has the loudest echolocation of any sea at around 200 decibels – a firework is only around 150 decibels!
Now I’m home with a nice warm cup of tea, I can’t wait for my next week on board, and the excitement of what we might see!
ORCA Wildlife Officer - The Bay of Biscay