Posted by: orcaweb | July 18, 2010

This Be Tornado Country, Boy!

I’m often asked about the legends and myths of the ocean by passengers out here on the Cap Finistere.  Though some do seem inordinately false, a lot do have founding in real events, and I always make sure to stress that whilst everything can seem quite ordinary at times, always expect the unexpected!

Mermaids – Early mariners crossing the World’s oceans claimed to often see women that were half human, half fish.  We now believe that such creatures can be linked to Manatees and even our very own Cuvier’s Beaked Whale.  I asked the 60 or so people attending my talk the other afternoon whether they thought Cuvier’s looks feminine – the general consensus was a firm no.  Perhaps it’s just me and my life at sea, but I’m starting to understand our forefathers…

The Green Flash – Those of you who have seen the latest instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series will know of the Green Flash and its mythical connotations, those of you haven’t, I shall explain…  Legend has it that as the sun sets upon our cruel world, sometimes the sky will turn an eerie shade of green and a flash of green light will shoot into the sky.  As this happens, a soul re-enters the World.  Well, I can confirm that the Green Flash IS a real thing, and though not common by any means, on a particularly clear and sunny evening it is always worth watching the sun go down in case you’re witness to one of life’s finer delights.  The fact behind the legend, is that when the sun sets, the coming of ‘second light’ shines through the lower green spectrum across the ocean, turning everything a shade of green.   It must be stressed that this is NOT an illusion and is in fact a very real occurrence.

Now, where I’m going with this, is to always expect the unexpected, no matter how absurd it may seem.

A prime example of this occurred on the morning of 17th July, when as we approached the coast of Spain, a small ‘finger’ of cloud appeared to start growing out of the bottom of the cloud base.  As it extended it began to noticeably move, and those of us on deck braced ourselves to bear witness to a Water Spout/Tornado forming in front of us.  Sadly it never extended all the way to the ground and retracted almost as soon as it had begun, but I’m sure by the following photo, you can see that all sorts of crazy things happen out here at sea…

Lisle Gwynn – ORCA Wildlife Officer


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