Jul04

Dolphin or Porpoise, that is the question!?

Categories // English Channel Wildlife Officer

Dolphin or Porpoise, that is the question!?

How to tell the difference between dolphins and porpoise in the English Channel! 

Hi Everyone,

My third week on board DFDS Transmanche Ferries has been full of ups and downs! We started off with the nicest weather and hot temperatures up to 32 degrees! And yet, the sea was being unpredictable…unfortunatly there were too many white caps for observations but it was still nice enough to enjoy the crossing.  

On Friday, I gave my first bilingual presentation to 30 passengers with 50% of the crowd being English and the other half being French. It was quite a challenge and the best part was two curious French teenagers answering all the questions correctly. I was quite impressed by how much they knew, it is always great to see the next generation interested in wildlife and getting involved in conservation. It is real proof that we can alter the future by involving more people in conservation effort!

The ADOBO HOBOS group came on board on Saturday to entertain passengers with country music and rock and roll. With the concert taking place, I couldn’t give presentations and instead, the Chief Officer and Chief Engineer offered to show me around the Engine Control Room, and to put it into their words “I should know every corner of the ship considering how much time I am spending on it!”. It turned out to be very cool (and very hot!). I had to wear sound-cancelling headphones to avoid damaging my hearing. When the engineers talk about their work, they have the same sparkles in their eyes as we do when talking about cetaceans! They are as passionate about their work as we are about ours.

One of the main debates that has been taking place since the beginning of the programme was about dolphins and porpoises. Every time they got a sighting before I came on board, the big question was; was it a dolphin or a porpoise? Some of the crew members mistake porpoise as a common term to englobe all cetaceans. Others thought that porpoises were a type of small dolphins! You might be asking yourself the same question… Remember, dolphins and porpoises are two different types of cetaceans, the second one being a lot smaller than the first one. Porpoises also have no beak, a triangular shape-like dorsal fin and sharped teeth, where dolphins have a beak, a curved and hooked dorsal fin and conical teeth. If you see very quiet small creatures swimming alongside the boat, chances are they’re porpoises. If you see very social, playful animals with different patterns on the skin, you are spotting dolphins! It was quite funny to be the tight breaker of arguments that went on for quite a long time, and they were all very passionate about their saying!

Can’t wait to talk to you about Week number 4!

Cheers

Maeva