The promise of nothing, but the hope of something

Categories // Bay of Biscay

The promise of nothing, but the hope of something

Patience paid off on board the Cap Finistère this week with passengers thrilled by both common and striped dolphins! 

I would love to tell you of the eight wonderful cetacean species we have seen this week, and how I’m only a little bit embarrassed that I cried not once, but twice at their overwhelming magnificence and abundance. I would sadly be lying though as that was last week.

This week the seas have been a little more unsettled making it hard to spot dolphins in amongst the white horses racing across the surface. But that is what makes wildlife so alluring and addictive – the promise of nothing, yet the boundless hope of something. Patience really does pay off and the sighting feels so much sweeter when you have spent hours scanning the endless ocean to finally spot what you’ve been searching for… our trusty common dolphins! Passengers were thrilled and after braving the wind they were very deserved of a bonus prize; striped dolphins!

Striped dolphins are a similar size and shape to the common dolphins which is why they’re so well hidden in amongst them! Their distinctiveness comes in their pattern; two dark stripes along their side from their eye, one to their tail stock and the other to their pectoral fin, and a light grey blaze that sweeps up to their dorsal fin. They are incredible creatures - leaping clear of the water with such speed, energy and acrobatics! An absolute delight!

Our calmest waters have been around the Brittany coast, a region this very ship is named after, with views of idyllic islands, beachy coves and quaint villages in the sunshine. As I write this we are once again approaching this stretch of land but as it is dark out all I can see are the intermittent flashes of light from the many lighthouses. I do enjoy ‘discovering the lighthouses at the tip of Brittany’ – as the handy leaflet from the information desk says! Many of the lighthouses are isolated, built on rugged rocks in the mid-late-1800s. It does makes you wonder about the variety of wildlife that has passed them and their keepers by over the years.

Cap blog wk 8 Lighthouses

Thanks to a group of Breton famers back in 1973, today as an ORCA Wildlife Officer I get to watch some of these lovely creatures from the comfort of a Brittany Ferries ship with plenty of passengers to keep me company. ORCA have had a wonderful partnership with Brittany Ferries for over a decade and they are one of the most important supporters of our work. As well as having access to their ships for surveying and thousands of their passengers to inspire and educate, we are also given an area in their Portsmouth office as a base from which we conduct our vital work. I for one am extremely grateful for the opportunities the continued support from Brittany Ferries provides!

For me it’s from the sea to the forest but I will be back on board next week to once again see what the English Channel, Brittany coast and Bay of Biscay has to offer! I hope the sea calms for the girls on here and the officers back aboard the Pont Aven.


ORCA Wildlife Officer – Bay of Biscay