Sep20

Penultimate week on the Pont

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

Penultimate week on the Pont

Our Wildlife Officer season on the Pont-Aven is coming to an end, check out Bex sightings from her penultimate week... 

It is my penultimate week on the Pont-Aven! The mornings are decidedly more crisp since my last crossing in August, finally justifying my girl-guide level of weather preparedness which generally styles my deck-watch outfit. On a gorgeous sunrise/moonset sail towards Cork, Gwendaline and Jeromy spotted pod after pod of common dolphin with me, either lazing in the dawn light or leaping towards the ship. 

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A friendly group of French fishermen from Brittany later joined on deck, regaling me with their fishing and basking shark encounters (the latter described with deep sincerity and infallibility as a whale shark, even after seeing a photo. Incredulous, I searched the internet for any rogue sightings of the tropical shark in Brittany until we cleared up the miss-understanding). Bidding farewell to these lovely guests I then spent the evening deck watch with some hardy passengers out the blustery September wind long enough to see four fin whales! Two were seen just a few hundred metres ahead of the ship, which navigated a perfect swoop to the right, avoiding the whales entirely. The whales and our swoop can be seen in the photos below!

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Turning south to the Biscay and picking up a fab ORCA Survey Team, it was a shock to find it almost silent for whales and dolphins!

Passengers who I’d convinced that 6:45am wasn’t too early to join me for deck watch were overjoyed to catch the closest fin whale sighting of the day just after 7am. After that, we were stretched until 10:30 until the next sighting of bottlenose dolphins! The spell was then broken as Cuvier’s beaked whale and common dolphin sightings were being called from the ship barrier by one and all. Even as the ship pulled into Santander bay, a shark was spotted from the Survey Team from the Bridge! The team have all been trained on the ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor course and now have the opportunity to survey the Biscay – sign up now for a course if you’d like to do this too!

After saying farewell to a wonderful Survey Team, it was straight to the Plymouth Port terminal to welcome to an ORCA Sea Safari team! 52 wildlife watchers took to Deck 10 with the Sea Safari guides to embark on a return trip to Santander with the aim of spotting as much wildlife as possible. In minutes their eagle eyes tracking gannets and shearwaters, dolphin and tuna. It’ll be a fabulous crossing together and I can’t wait to report our progress to you next week!

Until then, have a great week wherever you are!

Bex

ORCA Wildlife Officer – The Bay of Biscay