Posted by: orcaweb | June 9, 2012

A Week of Wonderful Wildlife!

Great stuff from Zak! I would just like to introduce and welcome Ben to the team, he has joined me on my short stint onboard, as we both leave the ship after only a week and leave you back in the capable hands of Zak…

Trip 29: Portsmouth – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth

There is something about leaving Portsmouth on a Friday evening that always manages to produce some of the most stunning sunsets over some of the calmest seas…

The next morning, the sun rose as the ship crossed the middle of the Bay. And Dolphins abound! Once again, hundreds of Common Dolphins were sighted throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

There were also lots of Sunfish sightings, as they bobbed at the surface, basking in the sun, flapping their uniquely arranged fins above the surface.

And finally! My first Shark sighting, and to say I was excited would be an understatement. As much as I love Cetaceans, Sharks have always led the way for me in terms of favourite animals. This guy was paying particular interest to the floating orange object, and before I took these photos, the Shark made some investigatory bites, pulling the object under, before releasing it. Its Caudal fin, or tail fin, breaks the surface slightly in the photo below, and is heading straight for the orange object again, you can just make out its body, and its large Pectoral fins on either side, through the water.

Trip 30: Portsmouth – Roscoff – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth

Once again, Sunfish made an appearance between leaving Roscoff and the sun setting as we crossed the middle of the Bay.

It wasn’t until the next day as we left Bilbao mid-morning, that the Cetacean sightings heated up. Numerous Common Dolphin sightings were dispersed between two sightings of two pods of Pilot Whales, both pods having roughly six to eight individuals.

Despite their name, Pilot Whales are of course a species of Dolphin. Having been commonly called Pilot Whales in the past their common English name has stuck with them over time. What is the best way to tell the difference between a species of Dolphin and a Whale? Look at the position of its Dorsal Fin, the fin on its back. Dolphins have centrally located, or slightly forward of central, Dorsal Fins; whilst Whales have Dorsal Fins roughly two-thirds along their body, much closer to their tails, and the fin in Whales is often greatly reduced.

Cracking bulbous-headed animals!

And then the sun set !

Trip 31: Portsmouth – Santander & Santander Portsmouth

Ben joined me for his training onboard Cap Fin for the final trip of my week-long stint onboard. He got to experience a barrage of Dolphins both coming in and out of Santander. There were hundreds of them. Including an enormous pod of probably 80 individuals of both Common and Striped Dolphins, hunting what looked like a large school of fish. I will finish this last part of the blog with a few photos of the many Dolphins we encountered on our journey through the Southern part of the Bay of Biscay.

Incredible!

Until next time…

.Tom.

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