Jun17

A new ship brings new opportunities and even better conversations!

Categories // Wildlife Officer Sightings

A new ship brings new opportunities and even better conversations!

What a first week it's been for Lily on board Brittany Ferries brand new ship the Galicia! 

Hello, my name is Lily and I’m currently the Wildlife Officer on board the brand-new Brittany Ferries ship Galicia. The new ship has such a beautiful peaceful way about it, not only is it spacious but it is very comfortable. Passengers can enjoy interactive screens on every deck and amazingly bright and airy public areas to relax in. They also have the opportunity to learn about whales and dolphins in the most amazing discovery area, full of fun facts and images of cetaceans. Overall, my first impression is that it will be a wonderful ship to live on board, and I was grateful to the crew for showing me around as new ships can be the perfect place to get lost!

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We kicked off with  a slow start on Tuesday as we were heading through the English Channel, departing early from Portsmouth. After over a year of not being out to sea working with ORCA, I couldn’t contain my excitement to get out on deck! Although no cetaceans were seen by myself and the dedicated passengers alongside me, we were lucky to enjoy some brilliant up close and personal gannet action. I had missed those piercing eyes looking down on me.

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We’re in the Bay of Biscay! My previous experience as a Wildlife Officer tells me first thing at 5am that “today will be a good day” and thank goodness I listened. Lots of keen eyes joined me on deck and we saw 9 pods of common dolphins and one very large pod of striped dolphins (I managed to count 17!) The behaviours varied, some seeking out our bow waves with their calves and others slowly guiding between waves. It felt good to finally see these magical creatures after such a long time and thank goodness I had people with me to experience it as well.

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A new day and I woke up to beautiful coastal France. I was out on deck at 6am and slowly people ventured out to join me on a very sunny deck 10. Although it was a quiet crossing the small number of passengers on board did manage to enjoy a pod of 12 bottlenose dolphins with me. We watched them head off towards one of the many famous lighthouses on the French coast, slipping behind us unfazed by our bow waves.

I had the pleasure of using the amazing “discovery area” on board, as an area for micro drop-in talks with guests! This area has various touch screens all of which have wildlife and environmental themes. Passengers can learn about the ocean and the life within it with just a few taps of the screen. I took my resources with me and had some brilliant talks with people and using the huge windows in this space, even spotted some porpoises!

The next couple of days was a complete dolphin party! The pods I have seen so far have been a lot larger than when I did my Wildlife Officer placement in 2019. It had me wondering just maybe, could it be due to less ships passing through the Bay of Biscay that there had been an increase in cetacean breeding in this area? Either way, it will be really interesting to see the research and data on this that builds over the coming year, now that we are allowed back out to sea. I was so glad that with every sighting I was joined by enthused passengers. Some of which truly had never seen dolphins before, even though they had travelled the Bay of Biscay for years and years. I think that is the most rewarding part of being a Wildlife Officer. Although personally I adore seeing the wildlife at sea, there is nothing like hearing the gasps and cheers of people witnessing dolphins playing in the waves. This is usually followed by “Wow I will never forget that!”.

I can honestly say I have met some of the most interesting people in just the space of a week. Conservationists, film makers, even people starting new lives in Spain, I haven’t stopped interacting with passengers. . I absolutely love hearing people’s stories of previous wildlife interactions. Stories of people watching blue whales gliding past their fishing boats and swimming with whale sharks in tropical waters. Whilst working as a Wildlife Officer people open up to you and tell you their fondest memories of wildlife and that makes the job really special! These beautiful creatures will never know how they can bring complete strangers together for amazing conversations, just by them being seen.