Posted by: orcaweb | April 11, 2012

Dolphins and rainbows

Trip 4: Portsmouth – Santander & Santander – Portsmouth

Starting off in the channel, we wouldn’t be into the bay until late evening. There were some really nice looking rain clouds on the horizon…

Early start and I was up on deck, where I was joined by a dedicated bunch, a couple of lads from Sheffield University, that didn’t mind getting a bit wet in the mean-time. No whales, but after about 10 minutes our first Common Dolphin popped up next to the ship. Followed by a pod that approached from far off. Then another pod joined the ship, followed by more coming from the horizon. Both adult and juvenile Common Dolphins. Totally awesome! Great to see some young dolphins as well, about half the size of the adults which can grow up to about two and a half metres. In total, we must have had at least 40 Common Dolphins around the ship. Making it all worthwhile!

The seas were very choppy on the return journey, making it a lot more difficult to spot Cetaceans. But, nevertheless, a few passengers stuck it out in the strong and wet winds and managed to spot a few Common Dolphins porpoising from the waves.

A pair of Robins had joined the ship for the journey to Santander, and as we crossed into the channel heading back for Portsmouth, a Great Skua passed the ship, a huge predatory bird that will steal fish from Gannets and even kill smaller gulls, like the Kittiwake.

Trip 5: Portsmouth – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth:

Waking in the middle of the Bay, the sun was shining and the wind had died, but a heavy mist on the horizon remained. Two pods of dolphins were sighted. The first were too distant to be indentified, the second pod was of Common Dolphins, of around four to six individuals.

By daybreak the ship was passing Brittany, and heading into the Channel. No cetaceans today, but a good show from some diving Gannets in the distance. These large sea birds can hit the water at up to 60mph, and dive at least 10 metres.

Lots of plastics, old ropes and rubbish in our seas though… not good!

Trip 6: Portsmouth – Roscoff – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth:

The sea was its roughest so far, and the wind and rain made it spotting whales and dolphins challenging, but on the return trip, patches of sun broke through, as the ship seemed to manage to bypass all the heavy showers. As a result of the sun and rain, plenty of rainbows scattered the horizon.

Fingers crossed for some better weather and some more great cetacean sightings! Bye for now!



  1. Hi Tom, I finally got round to checking out the blog after a week in the remote Portuguese coast without internet. I hope you’re getting loads of good sightings and meeting some cool people. I can’t believe it’s already been this long since we caught the boat over to Santander with you. All the best from the Sheffield crew.

    • Hi Tom! Good to hear from you – time has flown by! Hope the dunes aren’t driving you too mad! Seen any nurdles on your travels? Hope its going well, take care, Tom.

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