May14

A Change of Ship

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

This week AJ is reporting from on board the bustling decks of the Mont Saint Michel after another incredible week at sea! 

Hello, it’s AJ back again, this time reporting from the bustling decks of the Mont Saint Michel! This week has been another incredible week at sea, with lots of enthusiastic and passionate passengers onboard keen to learn and understand more about the incredible marine life that we can find right on our doorstep!

From the minute that I jumped aboard on Tuesday evening the Brittany Ferries crew and the Entertainment Managers onboard were incredibly welcoming and made me feel right at home. With three crossings a day, I thought there would be little interest from people wanting to talk about the marine life in the English Channel as I assumed that it was more a ‘get from A to B ferry’. I am extremely happy to say that this, however, was not the case. There has been a great response from all the passengers and the crew that I have had the pleasure of talking to over the past week, all of whom were eager and amazed to hear that even on a crossing from Portsmouth to Caen there is the opportunity to spot amazing wildlife! I was amazed that most of the people I spoke to didn’t realise that we can see incredible wildlife so close to home, and I was more than happy to inform them that we do, in fact, have the opportunity to see lots. They had no idea that even in the English Channel we can see many different species including the shy harbour porpoises, the majestic minke whales and the energetic common dolphin!

After a slow start to the week, with not many sightings being recorded, it soon started to pick up mid-week where I had the absolute pleasure of being able to show a school group their first ever harbour porpoise! After they had woken up at three in the morning and driven eight hours to reach the port, it was fantastic to see their eyes light up when they spotted the little animal! It was, for them I believe, a great way to kick off their school’s activity week! Hopefully now that they know it’s possible to see these creatures so close to home their eyes will be glued to the ocean and they’ll see lots on their return crossing. Bon Chance!

Unfortunately, not every crossing was successful, and jam packed full of sightings. There were a few days where the white caps cresting the tops of the waves gave the impression of movement and hinted at hidden mysteries beneath, however, whatever secrets they held they kept to themselves. One species that was present throughout the entire week was the ever on the rise, ever present, ever-lasting plastic litter! A relatively new species, the plastic litter has greatly increased in number, almost exponentially, and is one of the most deadly and invasive species known to man. It causes death and destruction where ever it hunts and is, in every sense of the word, immortal as it never perishes, and it has no natural predators. An unbiased killer the plastic litter stalks the world’s oceans, ever changing, ever growing and ever adapting to the environment, reigning carnage up through the food chain assaulting the teeny tiniest little plankton species to the largest of the whales; it is wholly indiscriminate in its onslaught.   

I was utterly shocked at the sheer volume of marine litter that floated almost serenely past the ship at far too regular intervals for my liking. We passed everything from plastic drinking bottles to balloons to what appeared to be a car tyre. It was a most unpleasant sight!

On a positive note however almost every school child that I spoke to about marine litter knew that it is a huge problem and many were incredibly passionate and actually got very angry when we were talking about it. Maybe there is hope!

AJ 

ORCA Wildlife Officer - Bay of Biscay