The English Channel may surprise you!

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

Breaching whales and many dolphins make up the second week aboard the Pont Aven, Read more here.

It was another quiet week for the Pont Aven Wildlife Officers, with the journey to Santander only giving a few glimpses of common dolphins. Still, passengers were keen to be out dolphin spotting, with several staying out on deck with us for many hours in the hopes of a glimpse of those elusive dolphins.

Passengers have also been very passionate about getting involved with the issues cetaceans are facing today (overfishing, pollution etc.), with many asking how they could do their bit to help the environment after presentations by Lucy and myself. It is always a pleasure to see people engaging with the wildlife and taking an active role to help preserve it.

Kate presenting to passengers onboard the Pont Aven

This week during our last crossing to the Bay of Biscay we were joined by an ORCA Marine Mammal Survey team, who watch from the bridge for any whales and dolphins. They timed their survey perfectly as it wasn’t until Monday (the 16th April) that we were really treated by the wildlife of the Bay of Biscay. On our journey to and from Santander, we were graced with over 50 common dolphins, with many playing in the bow and wake of the Pont Aven. Passengers were ecstatic to see these incredible, acrobatic creates, before they disappeared into the deep blue of the Bay, but it’s hard not to be enchanted by these beautiful animals.

Lucy on early morning deck watchCommon dolphin playing in the wake of the Pont Aven

The biggest surprise of this week for us happened in the English Channel, on Tuesday the 17th. The English Channel has become an area where we, and other cetacean spotters like us, have come to not expect much activity, but perhaps a few trusty common dolphins. So imagine our surprise when 2 minutes into our morning deck watch when the flash of a tail was seen half way to the horizon. Lucy, myself and one dedicated passenger stared at the spot, willing the animal to make itself seen again. And there, among the many white caps and heavy swell, a minke whale came crashing up to the surface and breached 3 or 4 times. It was quite the spectacle, before it disappeared back into the mysterious channel. The rest of the journey back to Portsmouth was quiet, all for a few diving gannets keeping us company. But even with a quiet journey home, it just goes to show that you never know what you’re going to see when at sea, and some areas might just surprise you!

Kate – ORCA Wildlife Officer