Stormy seas, breaching whales and a dancing bear!

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

Stormy seas, breaching whales and a dancing bear!

This week it's all been happening on the Cap Finistère; from stormy seas, to breaching whales and a dancing bear! 

It’s Emma here, back on board the Cap Finistère and this week certainly hasn’t been short of excitement for Charlotte and I; from stormy seas to breaching whales and a dancing bear, there really has been lots happening on the Bay of Biscay!

It has been lovely to get to know Charlotte in our first week together during her placement, and we have already had many exciting cetacean sightings, along with wonderful passengers and excited children. The week started very calm in terms of weather, but the atmosphere has been much more energetic as now we have plenty of children on board as the holidays are in full swing.

During the week we have had plenty of close encounters, mostly with our fin whales, along with lots of tall blows further out, at one point in the week our sightings board had more whales than dolphins, which earlier in the season I would never have even believed! One of the best sightings I have had on board also came this week as Charlotte and I saw a big splash far out on the horizon, which we knew definitely had to be something huge. We managed to show all the passengers on deck the unbelievable sight of a breaching whale, and Charlotte even managed to catch a photo that allowed us to even identify it as a fin whale, as it showed us the white on its right lower jaw, whilst seemingly waving to say ‘Whale, hello there!’.

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Cap Fin blog 310719 3

Along with our amazing numbers of whales, we have also had plenty of other sightings this week, including common dolphins, striped dolphins, a porpoise and Cuvier’s beaked whales, much to the delight of the many children and adults who have been on board.

Cap Fin blog 310719 1 Cap Fin blog 310719 2

Towards the end of the week we had stormy weather all across the Bay, and on Monday we were not able to survey and instead filled our day chatting to the lovely passengers and walking Pierre le Bear around the decks to cheer up the seasick children on board – one even perked up enough to challenge Pierre to a dance battle! As the ship continued through the bad weather during the evening, we were diverted off course to assist with a rescue of somebody from a smaller boat; it’s all just another day in the office, when you’re sailing across the Bay of Biscay!

Thankfully, on Tuesday the storm had calmed just enough that we could head out on deck to see what wildlife was out there. As the swell was still huge and lots of waves were breaking, we had almost given up on seeing something, when out of nowhere, a slow moving fin whale surfaced right beside the ship and showed us its immense size and the white on its jaw clearly visible! We spotted another whale, some dolphins, a sunfish and even managed to spot flying fish, despite the weather – a pleasant surprise!

Anyway, we are both looking forward to another week on board and hopefully more amazing cetacean sightings!


ORCA Wildlife Officer – The Bay of Biscay