Bex's time on the Pont-Aven has come to an end! Read all about her final week in the Bay of Biscay...
To pick up where I left off last week, the September Sea Safari kicked off in a flurry of Shearwaters as we left Plymouth. These exceptional seabirds migrate from Europe to South America every autumn, feeding on route by skimming the surface for fish. Manx shearwaters have a wingspan of up to 82cm and may “shear” the sea surface as they hunt for fish such as herring and sardines. Dotted amongst the shearwaters were great skuas: brown, heavy bodied birds with white bars on the wing edges. Skuas are often seen alone and are known to steal fish from the beaks of other birds!
The Sea Safari team struck out with a determination that lasted for the entire mini-cruise. Despite challenging conditions, they still spotted the blows from a large whale, striped dolphins, a possible sperm whale and a couple of finches just to spice things up! The following day bore similar blustery conditions, though we nevertheless clocked some signs of a minke whale and several pods of dolphin out in the white-water. Everyone was a fantastic sport and were of great support to each other. Big thanks to all the Sea Safari-as, the wonderful guides and all the passengers that kept deck 10 so lively.
Sharks ahoy! While cetacean sightings have been a little sporadic this week, the seas have been peppered with the gentle swish of a shark’s tail! 40 species of shark have been recorded in British waters, with 21 classed as residential sharks such as the dogfish and Angelshark. Summer seasonal visitors include basking sharks, blue sharks and the short-finned mako. In addition to the blue sharks I saw over the summer, this week I spied the forked tail of a lamnid shark (the family mako’s, porbeagle and great whites belong to) gracefully dive into the green depths of the channel. Then, after a very quiet and water-capped Biscay crossing, the water calmed down enough to spot the dorsal and tail fin of a small shark slice the water as we sailed into Santander.
With a heavy heart I sign off for the last time as a Pont Aven and ORCA Wildlife Officer. It has been a blast and I’ve loved every minute.
ORCA Wildlife Officer – The Bay of Biscay