Tranquil, calm waters have provided almost perfect spotting conditions for our Wildlife Officers on board the Cap Finistère
It’s Emma again, I’ve been back on board the Cap Finistère enjoying a lovely couple of weeks with my fellow Wildlife Officers. For my second week on board, the sea has been nice and calm providing almost perfect spotting conditions in both the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel.
Our first crossing of the week really delivered the cetacean sightings - to the surprise of all the passengers on board, who usually pity us in our layers as we watch out in the usually cold and rainy English Channel! The beautiful mirror calm sea allowed us to see all the animals that are usually hiding amongst the waves. I finally saw my first harbour porpoises – one of the species I’ve wanted to see the most as they are usually so shy and elusive. I also had my first sightings of a minke whale and Risso’s dolphins as they rolled through the water on the same crossing. As well as these amazing sightings, there were large pods of dolphins in the distance, only visible because of the tranquil waters of the channel, which I feel lucky to have enjoyed!
Across this week we have also had plenty of common dolphins, who are quickly becoming our favourite spots, as they head towards the ship to bow ride and put on a show for everyone out on deck as they leap high out of the water. My enthusiasm for this species is only growing with each sighting I have and they certainly are not ‘just common dolphins’ as many people say in disappointment – the name truly does not do them justice! On our final crossing back to Portsmouth, which one little girl out on deck perfectly summed up as being ‘dolphin-tastic’, we had some incredible pods of up to 200 common dolphins and we even managed to spot a couple of striped dolphins in amongst them!
As well as being a great week for dolphins, we have also seen plenty of pilot whales, as they plough through the water with their huge rounded heads. We had a close encounter with a pod of 15 of these incredible animals on our final crossing, as they slowly bobbed up and down between the waves right by the side of the ship to the awe of the passengers on deck.
On two separate days this week, we had some lovely cetaceans show up perfectly on cue at the back of the ship just as we had finished our presentation. We were able to show the passengers who came along a pod of dolphins one day and a beaked whale the next – these sightings really were the perfect finish to our talk. Seeing these animals from inside got everyone really excited to head out on deck and I’m sure I speak for us all in saying we would really enjoy if they kept up these appearances!
For now, I’m off to enjoy a relaxing week at home after all the excitement– but I’ll be wishing Louise and Trina a lovely week on board with plenty more amazing sightings.
ORCA Wildlife Officer - The Bay of Biscay