Jun24

Hungry for more?

Categories // Bay of Biscay

Hungry for more?

Another great week for dolphins, but where are the whales?

They definitely weren’t near the Galicia that’s for sure. Calm waters made perfect surveying conditions and still, they didn’t pop up anywhere! But all was still well because the dolphins were still stealing the show (and I’m totally ok with that woohoo!)

Our journey across the Bay of Biscay kept passengers full of excitement as pod after pod appeared in front of us performing all sorts of different behaviours. Very large pods of striped dolphins and common dolphins both made another strong appearance this week, some pods had 50 plus individuals. Through the binoculars, I noticed many pods were too busy feeding to come and play. Bubbling across the top of the waves, fins popped up here there and everywhere. The rapid and erratic movements that they were making, made it clear they were particularly busy sorting dinner.

Watching all these dolphins feeding brought questions from passengers such as:

“What do they eat?”
“Do they work together to catch fish?”
“How do they know where to find fish in this much ocean?”
“Do whales and dolphins eat the same fish?”

All of these questions got me thinking about the amount of different feeding strategies and tactics cetaceans have and how complex their diet can really be. I explained that their feeding depends on the species. That led to some really interesting conversations with passengers including the subject of whales eating humans, as it was reported this week in the news that a man got stuck in a whales mouth! All these discussions meant I got to share some of my favourite feeding facts which I can now share in this blog…

  • A whale’s throat is actually so small in comparison to its mouth (no wider than a grapefruit) it would be impossible to swallow a human!
  • Not all baleen whales feed in the same way. You may think every baleen whale just gulps down food by lunging, but actually, they have some different ways of feeding. Whales such as bowhead whales and right whales use continuous ram filter-feeding much like a whale shark, rorqual whales use lung feeding (or intermittent ram filter-feeding) and grey whales use a form of suction filter-feeding!
  • Not all killer whales eat fish! Transient killer whales eat marine mammals and resident killer whales feed on different fish types.
  • Beaked whales have developed the ability to deep dive for hours in order to catch their favourite prey, deep water squid!

I have once again adored all the fabulous passengers I have met so far who are travelling with Brittany Ferries! So many interesting people with interesting stories. I also had a lovely passenger share her story with me about a recent killer whale encounter she had in Scotland. She witnessed a transient killer whale make a successful strike at a local harbour seal! What an experience!