Posted by: orcaweb | July 30, 2009

Now it’s the turn of the boys!

Striped Dolphin taken by Nick Williams from the deck of the Pont Aven

Striped Dolphin taken by Nick Williams from the deck of the Pont Aven

Iv’e just done a five day stint on the Pont Aven as a volunteer wildlife offcer to fill in whilst Lena and Rachael are away. I had a great time and I now know how hard the girls work! I think you are doing a cracking job ladies inspiring people about the life in our seas. During the 5 days we saw lots of dolphins (striped & common) from the hellideck but  the highlight of this voyage was seeing 2 Cuvier’s Beaked Whales about 2 hours out of Santander which I guess was in the area of the deep ocean ‘Torrelavega’ canyon. This is in the area where you would expect to see them. You can almost set your watch by the appearance of these guys in this particular part of the Southern Bay of Biscay. These animals were spotted by a young man who was part of a very keen family who spent hours on deck with me looking out for whales and dolphins. What a keen eyed young fellow he was. But our dolphin watching was not just confined to the outer decks people were seeing dolphins from the restaurant too and the sightings not only excited the ships passengers but the crew also! On one particular evening I was eating in the crew mess (wildlife officers are part of the crew and therefore dine with the crew) when there was a sudden shout of ‘dolffin’!! from one of the French girls which is clearly an internationally recognised word! Suddenly all present in the mess  dashed towards the windows to observe a group of dolphins dashing in towards the port side of the ship. Even the chef came running out of the kitchen to take a look! It’s great to know that even the crew can get excited about seeing dolphins eventhough they regularly cross the Biscay.

We saw a small number of Cory’s Shearwater on the crossings to and also the ever present Gannets who by observing their behaviour led us onto many dolphins.
I enjoyed giving my presentations to the ship’s passengers touching upon ORCA and Brittany Ferries present ‘Go Large’ campaign concerning the threat of ship strikes on Fin whales. During my presentation in the main bar area Jenny Marquis the on-board face painter was holding a session and kept the kids interested by painting orcas and dolphins and some other rather scary images on their faces!

So now I’m handing back the baton to Rachael and Lena. Keep up the good work girls!

Elfyn Pugh

Volunteer Wildlife Officer

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