May09

Whaley Wonderful Week

Categories // Bay of Biscay Wildlife Officer

Whaley Wonderful Week

Another wonderful week started with a sunny Thursday full of fin whales aboard the Cap Finistere.

Well what a whaley wonderful week we have had on the Cap Finistere! Our sunny week started with a Thursday of fin whales and beaked whales everywhere. Some distant beaked whales had us stumped, so we resorted to take lots of photos, hoping one may provide a clue as to what the animals were! Pouring over the many photos later, we now think they were most likely our old favourites, the Cuvier’s beaked whale. With five individuals travelling together, we were surprised and delighted to see such an uncharacteristically big group. 

With few children on board, we took advantage of the extra time, and of course, with such fantastic weather we couldn’t keep away from the decks, constantly on the lookout for more amazing animals.

light delays on our second trip across the bay, allowed us extra time in pelagic waters, home of the large whales. We were excited to have extra time at sea, and on such a perfect day. The sun was high and the waves barely breaking the whole journey south, creating perfect spotting conditions. As we journeyed closer to Spain, many passengers came out to enjoy the sunshine. We were delighted to be able to showcase the best of the bay with fin whales and common dolphins putting on quite a display.

One particular highlight for Wildlife Officers and passengers this week was on Saturday. Basking in the sun, many passengers lounged on deck chairs and lined the barriers along the deck, looking out to sea. Suddenly, those of us standing by the barrier heard an almighty puff as below us, a fin whale appeared from beneath the waves. It is an understatement to say we were surprised and shaken by such a sudden appearance! Those sitting on the chairs leapt to their feet, but surfacing for mere moments, the whale was already moving away. Fumbling for our cameras, we looked down, watching as it closed its blowhole before swiftly twisting and diving away, out of sight. We were hugely humbled by seeing such a large animal nearby, but also concerned by how close the whale came to such a large ship. ORCA is continuing to investigate the risk of ship strike to large whales, working to prevent this threat in the Bay of Biscay. More information can be found here. This was but one of many fin whales seen that day, so the passengers who missed that one saw many more.

We finished our weekend with sun-tinted (and of course not at all pink!) faces all round after many hours in the bright Biscay sun.

For our last journey through the best of the bay on Tuesday, hopes were high for more amazing sightings. We were not disappointed, as on Tuesday we spent our afternoon watching fin whale after fin whale. Battered around by strong winds, we stood out on deck, kept encouraged and motivated by the many sightings. The few passengers that braved the weather were treated to common dolphins and many whales, a few said they simply hadn’t believed us when we said we see so many! We were happy to prove to them that the Bay of Biscay really does live up to the hype. Highlight of the day was capturing the photo below. I thought I was taking a photo of one whale….imagine my surprise looking back at them later! Can you spot the tiny common dolphin?

I can’t wait to hear what more Sam and Laura see this week!

Heather

Wildlife Officer Cap Finistere