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One of the first common dolphins spotted on one of our first deck watches back in April

Find out what Laura's top 6 moments have been during her time on board the Cap Finistère as her final weeks approach. 

Hello again, Laura here.  It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that this is my penultimate blog post as a Wildlife Officer this year. Never fear, I still have one more shift to go, but as the summer begins to draw to a close I thought I should devote this blog to regaling you with tales of my best sightings, deck watches and moments over the past five and a half months. So here we go:

6. My first common dolphin

They might be one of the most frequently sighted animals in European waters, but prior to my time as a Wildlife Officer, I hadn’t yet manged to catch a glimpse of these elegant creatures. As we set sail for our Wildlife Officer training back in March, my low expectations kept everybody amused. But less than 24 hours later I got my first sighting and my season was made!

5. My first fin whale

Way back in April, Sam and I were enjoying one of our Thursday morning deck watches, when all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity on the bridge (which we can see clearly from our observation deck). We saw the bridge crew seemingly race from the port side to the starboard side, almost as if an abandon ship was in progress (thankfully it wasn’t!).  Sam and I were very confused by this, until we heard a “whoooosh” sound as a fin whale surfaced right next to the ship, so close that we could hear it breathe. We’ve seen other fin and sei whales close to the ship, but this was my first so will always have a fond place in my memory.

4. The return of the large whales.

If you’ve been following our blogs over the past 6 months, you will have noticed that we had a little lull in whale activity for a few months in the middle of the season. It wasn’t completely bare, we had a few whales in the distance but nothing to make a big song and dance about like earlier in the season. However, last month, during Emily’s first week on board, we got treated to such a show from these glorious animals. They were everywhere, at the front of the ship, the back, close by and far away. In the space of one hour we saw 17 whales, the most I’d seen in such a long time. And to add to it, we had a seventy year old woman out on deck who was incredibly emotional as these were the first whales she had ever seen in her life - moments like this make the job mean so much to me.

Lauras blog 2 edit

3. Breaching Cuvier’s beaked whales.

Beaked whales, particularly the Cuvier’s beaked whale are frequent visitors on our deck watches. We usually just see them at the surface, rolling through the waters, but occasionally they like to leap clear of the water. One time that sticks out to me was back in July when four Cuvier’s beaked whales decided to put on a show for us, repeatedly breaching only about 500 metres from the ship and treating all of us out on deck to a great performance.

2. Breaching Minke whale near Ile de Sein.

We’ve seen minke whales on several occasions around the Brittany Islands, but early one Sunday morning we got a real treat. I was just chatting to a passenger when out of the corner of my eye I saw an absolutely massive splash. A splash that size could only mean one thing…a breaching whale! I kept my eye on the area and soon after got to witness the culprit, a minke whale breaching clear out of the water. The marvellous animal repeated this action several times until it was out of sight. A real surprise that morning.

1. Orcas….need I say more.

Obviously a countdown of my favourite moments wouldn’t be complete without a mention of those astoundingly brilliant orcas who graced us with their presence back in April. It was only the second week of the season and none of us were expecting it. It was Heather who spotted them and hurriedly ushered me over in time to see three female orcas coming round the bow onto the starboard side. I looked on in awe as they swam by and then off into the distance. It’s a moment I’ve never stopped replaying in my mind and will remember forever.

So there you go, my top 6 moments for this season so far. If anything happens in my upcoming final two weeks then I will be sure to update you in my final blog. But until then I’ll get some rest, and wish Heather and Lauren all the best for their upcoming crossings.

Laura

Wildlife Officer Bay of Biscay