The Bay of Biscay is full of surprises!

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

The Bay of Biscay is full of surprises!

Another productive week aboard Cap Finistere including fin whales, pilot whales and a beaked mystery to boot!

Hello there! It’s Sam again, back from my first full two weeks on board the Cap Finistere. Laura and I have had a great week this week, full of wonderful sightings and even a couple of surprise appearances…..

My week’s story starts with us, the wildlife officers, getting to know the crew a bit better. On deck we have developed this extra sense which is triggered by the bridge crew picking up their binoculars. Our response is to begin a frenzied search to make sure they haven’t seen something we’ve missed (the crew and the passengers find this highly entertaining!). On Thursday morning however our extra sense was triggered not by binoculars but by a commotion on the bridge. Three crew members ran from the port to the starboard side in what can only be described as action movie style. They looked like they were fleeing an explosion and were about to leap through the starboard window! Laura and I rushed to the railing to see what had gotten the crew so excited and we were not disappointed when we were greeted by a blow from a juvenile Fin whale right next to the ship!!! Once we had recovered from our shock we rushed to press that all-important sighting button and get our cameras ready to take a picture of this amazing animal.

Juvenile Fin whale that appeared right next to the ship!

For the following half an hour there was no rest as the Bay was full of activity. We spotted blows off into the distance and even what looked like blows from a mother and calf pair! The Bay of Biscay is already becoming the hotspot for fin whales it is known to be.

Anybody would have been happy after that wonderful sighting and we thought our luck had been spent on our second day out. The Bay of Biscay, however, had other wonders in store for us. If any of you follow us on twitter you will have seen our call for help in identifying a beaked whale. This beaked whale appeared early on Saturday morning just off the northern continental shelf on our way to Santander. This cetacean, again, appeared right next to the ship, it was barely moving and never surfaced. We managed to take a few photos and experts think it was probably a Cuvier’s beaked whale. Not long after we also caught a glimpse of a lone Pilot whale surfacing right next to the ship. These animals are very social and don’t tend to travel alone, that’s why we think it may have come from the port side of the ship and the rest of its pod may have already dived.

This calm Cuvier’s Beaked whale also appeared very close to the ship!

I mentioned that we were getting to know the crew a bit better, this includes the wonderful Entertainment Managers and the French crew that live on board with us. Throughout the week we have been putting our high school French to the test and finding we have a lot to learn. The crew are patient with us and are quite happy to help us improve.

As always we are extremely grateful to all of the passengers that come to our activities and we enjoy every minute we spend with them. We love to hear about their experiences with marine mammals and their hopes of seeing wildlife on their crossings. Keep the stories coming!

I am off now to enjoy my week off at home with my family. I wish Laura and Heather all the luck for this coming week in the incredible Bay of Biscay.