Posted by: orcaweb | September 9, 2011

Hurricane Dolphins

Hello everyone,

 Since last Friday life onboard the Cap Finistere has been dominated by the state of the seas. As many of you may be aware high winds have created rather rough seas particularly in the second half of the week. Despite force 9 gales Nathan and I were luckily enough to get some fantastic sightings of whales, dolphins, sharks and fish.

 Nathan joined me onboard on Friday and we travelled down to Bilbao. Saturday morning was calm with the sun shining though the thin fog with a mystical atmosphere. The tranquillity first was broken by waves of common dolphins and then by fin whale blows were shooting into the sky.

On Monday morning we stopped in Roscoff again on our way to Bilbao. As we left we saw harbour porpoises around the coast of Brittany and plenty of common dolphins as we travelled through the North of the Bay of Biscay. After watching a peaceful sunset we reached the Basque capital the following morning and then headed back to Portsmouth in some of the roughest seas I we have experience. As we left Bilbao we saw a sperm whale fin-slapping the surface creating huge splashes. After seeing this mighty beast we spent the afternoon spotting fin whale blows; until the sea erupted with thick white foam and the ship swayed crashing into the ocean surface. Despite these gale force conditions common dolphins still seemed intrigued by the ship and appeared alongside us exploding out of the huge rolling waves.

By Thursday the seas were once again relatively calm. In the morning we headed into Santander and as the sun rose from the horizon we saw fin blows in the distance. As the morning continued we were luckily enough to see more common dolphins, three Cuvier’s beaked whales and a pod of pilot whales. We also caught glimpses of several sharks and a flying fish near the ship’s hull. Despite leaving Santander a little later than usual due to a medical emergency we still managed to see a couple of pods of common dolphins, one of which was over a hundred individuals, and a beaked whale before the thick clouds surrounded the Cap Finistere and we slipped into the darkness of night.

Please check out ORCA’s website and note that in November we will be having ORCA’s Big Whale day as part of the Whalefest festival event in Brighton on the 6th of November. Check the website for details!

Mike and Nathan

Whale & Dolphin Officers

Cap Finistere



  1. I am taking 17 golfers (one of whom is a distinguished bird photographer) on the Pont Aven from Plymouth to Santander on 2nd October and on the Cap Finistere from Santander to Portsmouth on 6th October. Might we see whales and dolphins and if so, where is most likely?
    Will you still be on Cap Finistere then?
    Best wishes, Michael Hatch

    • Hi Michael,

      You have a great chance to see whales and dolphins. The best advice I can give you is to make sure your looking when your in the Bay of Biscay. You should see common dolphins (we get them alsmost ever trip). Also watch out for Cuvier’s beaked whales, harbour porpoises, fin whales, sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins and striped dolphins.


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