Posted by: orcaweb | April 4, 2012

Hello from Tom

Trip 1: Portsmouth – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth:

Hello all! My name is Tom, and I am the new Wildlife Officer on board Brittany Ferries Cap Finistere! Before I get underway, I have to thank Mike and Sophie for all their great help, they were good company to kick start the trips! The return journey to Bilbao was a fairly good one in terms of cetaceans. In total we saw around 40 Common Dolphins, 10 Striped Dolphins, a Beaked Whale and a potential Pilot Whale. Below is my first attempt to photograph a Common Dolphin… (you can just make out its distinctive yellow/tan flank)…

Despite not many cetaceans knocking about, there were plenty of Gannets keeping us company

Trip 2: Portsmouth – Roscoff – Santander & Santander – Portsmouth:

After Mike and Sophie had disembarked, the ship set sail for Roscoff overnight. We left Roscoff around 10:00, and conditions were pretty much ideal for whale watching! Despite this, and the fact that I was on deck for around six hours, the only sighting was of a single, lone Common Dolphin.

We were joined on deck by a thrush, which fluttered around for a while, and for you birders out there, a Wheatear, a migratory species that moves north from Africa for the summer, that tagged along for a few hours as well.

We arrived in Santander very early morning, before the sun had risen. By the time we left port it was heading on for 17:00. This gave me enough time to grab some dinner and get out on deck before the sunset. The effort paid off, as six Striped Dolphins popped up next to the ship, and were breaching around in the bow waves for a while, and just as the sun was doing this…

… two Beaked Whales surfaced right next to the ship before swimming off into the sunset.

Trip 3: Portsmouth – Roscoff – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth:

We arrived into Roscoff early morning, and had left by 10:00. I hoped that we would have enough time to get a good stretch into the Bay before sundown. But the ship broke down. Luckily, while we floated about 100km from land, a pod of around six Common Dolphins joined us, keeping everyone entertained!

No sightings for the rest of the day L fingers crossed for tomorrow! Oh, we did catch a glimpse of an eel at the surface! Very Peculiar!

A great start to the afternoon as we left Bilbao. The wind was strong, but it didn’t put people off. Within the first 10 minutes of being up on deck we saw this…

And we also had a few pods of around six Common Dolphins charging and breaching in the bow waves.

Here’s to another week of great sightings!



  1. A good start to the season Tom. I hope you experience many exciting trips across the Bay of Biscay in 2012 and have lots of people joining you on deck. As you know as from July ORCA will also have a presence on the ‘mother ship’ the ‘Pont Aven’ so between us lets hope we record some exciting animals.
    Best of luck Tom and take care.

    • Thanks Elfyn! Has been good so far!

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