The farewell Fin whale

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

The farewell Fin whale

The temporarily elusive fin whale returns as Sam's time on the Cap Finistère comes to an end! 

Hello everybody, it’s Sam again, but sadly for the last time!

It has been an incredible 3 months on board the Cap Finistère, with a lot more wildlife than I ever could have wished for. Throughout my time the Bay has also behaved itself, most of the time, and crossings have not been too rough for the passengers, or us!

My last week started off looking like we were going to struggle to see our amazing cetaceans as the wind was fairly strong. We were even forced to stop our official searches on several occasions because of all the white water. The sea conditions affect our ability to spot the animals and if the conditions get too bad we end up missing more than we see. We continued to keep an eye out and our perseverance was rewarded a few times as our trusty common dolphins appeared right next to the ship, delighting passengers that had joined us on deck.

Although the common dolphins accompanied us throughout the week, we were starting to really miss seeing our majestic fin whales. These whales are migratory and do move around the Bay and even further North in search of good krill patches. Although we know this, it doesn’t mean that we don’t miss seeing them on a regular basis, especially now after a few weeks! Luckily for me, the Bay is always full of surprises….

Yesterday, on my very last crossing, as we were going up the continental slope into shallower water, I was beginning to lose all hope of seeing a final Fin whale, but there it was!  It appeared just a few hundred metres off the ship giving our passengers a great view of its body so that they could appreciate the sheer size of this wonderful animal. I was so happy to see this majestic and temporarily elusive whale again, - what a great way to finish my time as a Wildlife Officer!

Every time a passenger asks me which species I have seen this year it always surprises me how many I end up rattling off. The Bay really is full of so many cetaceans! I have had so many animals appear right under my feet whilst at the railing on deck, including whales coming up from a deep dive, and so many passengers telling me they have seen cetaceans out of their cabin window or whilst they were having breakfast. So, my recommendation to you, as a passenger, is to always keep your eyes open, you never know when they might appear!!

I would like to give a warm welcome to our first ORCA Wildlife Officer placement Alex, who has just got on the ship. She will be on board for the next month gaining practical experience in searching for cetaceans and inspiring people to help us conserve these species. I wish her all the best and hope she has as much luck as I have had!!

As always, good luck Wildlife Officers!


Wildlife Officer - Bay of Biscay