Posted by: orcaweb | July 18, 2010

Don’t Worry, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright…

Throughout my first stints for ORCA out in the Bay of Biscay this season, there has always been a little voice in the back of my mind saying “this isn’t the Bay I remember”.  Passengers frequently ask whether this infamous stretch of ocean lives up to its name in terms of storms and rough seas… well, I can tell you here and now, it does.  Not so much in the summer when the seas are locked down by high pressure systems, but whenever a low approaches these volatile waters from deep in the North Atlantic, I can’t help but bust a small grin and emit a small chuckle as the sea I know and love rears its white capped head.

Despite a choppy start to the day, and possibly the first Dolphin-less crossing I’ve ever had in the Bay, highlight of the trip came in the form of a series of low bushy Sperm Whale blows about 700 metres out on the Port side at 9a.m., enjoyed by the 8 or 10 people who braved the less-than-brilliant conditions from first light.

As we entered the open waters of Biscay on the return leg, we quickly realised that we were in for a bumpy ride.  With a sea state of 8 pushing for 9 at times, and winds at a surprisingly ‘low’ force 6 or so, expectations were extremely low.  Despite thinking in my heart of hearts that the passengers may be too preoccupied with sick bags to attend my talk, and thinking they may come away disappointed at best, the 40 or so that did attend my talk were treated to a backdrop of Striped Dolphins performing acrobatic displays, leaping between patches of swell and waves.
These Striped Dolphin sightings continued in a similar fashion throughout the afternoon, but with sea state deteriorating further these were mostly observed from deck 8 in the Planets Bar, accompanied by a few cold beers (for the passengers) and a nice hot Tea for me, having braved the elements and been knocked flat on my bum by a rogue wave at one point, much to the delight of those being ill behind me.

Lisle Gwynn – ORCA Wildlife Officer

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