Some amazing weather meant the sightings just kept on coming this week for Emma and Lily on the Cap Finistère...
It has been another week packed with sightings for my second week on the Cap Finistère with Lily, and we have been so lucky to have lots of amazing weather and even more calm seas!
We woke early on Saturday, hopeful for just as many sightings as Lily and I had the week before, and this Saturday proved to be even more exciting than the last. We spent the early morning in the lovely calm shallow waters of the Bay of Biscay, hoping for dolphins, porpoises or maybe even a minke whale. However, we could not believe our eyes when we spotted a huge whale blow just behind the ship, as we do not usually see our larger whales in the coastal waters. We shouted to those on deck, and we all watched this huge whale as it continued to surface. After a few breaths, it was a little further away but we all kept watching through binoculars, when, to our surprise we saw the whale raise its tail flukes to dive into the deep. Lily and I turned to each other realising what this may mean… it was a blue whale!? As we looked through our pictures later, we confirmed our suspicions - the first sighting of a blue whale from the Cap Finistère! The rest of the day continued to amaze us: striped dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, fin whales, sunfish and a shark – what a day! These animals each seemed to be enjoying jumping out from the water, making us feel like there was something underneath them – even the fin whales were breaching and sunfish were leaping!
This week, Lily and I have really been enjoying being able to share our passion for marine wildlife and cetaceans with such a variety of different people during our presentations and activities – people of all ages are always so excited when you mention whales and dolphins. During our presentations, we talk about the incredible animals we may expect to see on our journey, showing passengers some of the amazing animals we have recently seen, but on Saturday, we managed to get a live example. We began to discuss some of the threats cetaceans are facing, when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a fin! Instinctively I stopped to point out this sighting to our audience hoping it would reappear, and it did, this whale was attempting to breach and brought the front of its body slightly above the surface – it was a fin whale! We truly felt like we were hosting our own nature documentary as we described the species and how to identify them, narrating as it continued to surface behind the ship!
Although I am not sure any other day can compare to the Saturday we had this week, the rest of the week has also been incredible for cetacean sightings. We have been able to observe plenty of dolphin species, some lovely little harbour porpoises and a close minke whale near the Brittany coast. However, the large whales have truly been out in force all week, as they begin to migrate back towards the warmer waters for the winter. We feel so lucky to have been able to spot over 30 of these giant whale blows over the week!
I am off for my last week off this season (which I really cannot believe has already come), and am wishing for plenty of cetaceans for Lily and Louise’s next week on board – I am already excited to be back for my final week on the Cap with Louise!
ORCA Wildlife Officer - The Bay of Biscay