Calm seas, commemoration and porpoises in Caen

Categories // Bay of Biscay

Calm seas, commemoration and porpoises in Caen
For D-day landing commemorations, parachuters were kayaked from England to the Normandy coast in support of the parachute regiment

Where to start on this extraordinary week of sightings, calm seas, and commemoration on the Mont St Michel?! 

I’m new to surveying the channel east of Roscoff, Brittany, so began the week with a totally open mind. The first few days were quiet, with enticingly flat seas yielding only gorgeous views to the horizon, and iceberg-white gannets scouring the surface. The lull was broken on day 3 by a harbour porpoise that popped up as we arrived into the Port of Caen, an area surrounded by gently sloping sandy beaches that stretch for over 8 miles along the coast.

The approach to port has turned out to be a total hotspot for porpoise, and passengers have been astonished to discover these secretive, subtle cetaceans can be seen in the Channel. The sea bed turns from gravel to sand about 30 miles from port, and is likely to support sand eel, which is a key prey-species for porpoise. 

75 years ago this week we remember the D-day landings of WW2. On this pivotal moment of modern history, 28 000 soldiers landed on the beaches that flank the Port of Caen and fought for an allied victory. The Mont St Michel has been honoured to transport veterans of D-day back to the beaches this year to commemorate the monumental occasion, and it has been deeply moving to repeatedly sail into port, seeing the coast as the soldiers did and reflect on those transformative days. As the sun was setting on the 4th June veterans, passengers, and crew came together with the sound of bagpipes to commit wreaths of remembrance to the waves. Having just recorded several porpoise sightings with passengers who’d never seen a cetacean before, the occasion is rather unforgettable.

It’s been fantastic surveying this surprisingly lively area of the channel and really appreciate the amazing welcome from the Mont St Michel crew! Thank you!


ORCA Wildlife Officer - Bay of Biscay

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Fred Olsen Cruises, Boudaccia carrying vetrans to the D-day commemorations

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Beautiful, thoughtful poster from Tabby (8yo) who joined me for deck watch from Caen!