Posted by: orcaweb | July 3, 2012

Killer Whales, Killer Mist, and a Killer Summer onboard Cap Fin!

Trip 38: Portsmouth – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth

Considering the weather on the last trip, I had no idea what to expect on this trip. After seeing Germany beat the Greeks, I popped out and caught the last bit of light over the choppy seas in the Channel.

And then, the joy, as I woke to this scene…

The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and the sea completely calm… Perfect! And what a way to start the day, than to be giving a presentation on Whales and Dolphins in the Bay of Biscay, and have pod after pod of Common Dolphin porpoising in the wake of the ship. The crowd were very pleased, as they squeezed up against the rear windows of the ship. Brilliant timing… right on cue!

And then to top this wonderful display off, after about half an hour enjoying the fresh sea air and the wonderful weather, a small pod of Killer Whales, or Orcas, were travelling through the Bay. I was overjoyed, ecstatic, the last of the Cetaceans on my wish list, and there they were!! Here is the male…

The huge Male, with his enormous sail-like dorsal fin, was leading what looked like a female, and maybe a juvenile with their smaller sickle shaped dorsal fins.

Of course, these are in fact the largest species of Dolphin, growing up to 10 metres, and are not Whales despite their name. Found in every Ocean, these guys are phenomenal ocean predators, I couldn’t stop smiling for a very long time!

And then the sunset while the Spaniards showed the French how to play football…

Trip 39: Portsmouth – Roscoff – Bilbao & Bilbao – Portsmouth

The next trip was a real tough one for Whale watching. A heavy sea mist lingered over the entire Bay of Biscay, reducing visibility to a mere few metres from the ship. Like a white wall of cotton wool, the mist sat across the sea as we left Bilbao…

It wasn’t long before the mist engulfed the ship, and we struggled to see one end of the ship from the other. A really unfortunate natural phenomenon.

It was quite eerie to see the young Gannets appear from the depths of the mist, and glide by the ship, before looping back and disappearing once again.

A strange experience, that was fascinating as much as frustrating. The French flag flies in the moisture-laden air…

Trip 40: Portsmouth – Santander & Santander – Portsmouth

Ben has joined me for the next two days on my final trip of the fortnight and season. The Channel was still shrouded in the thick sea mist as we left.

The promise of Cetaceans was fulfilled, when the early-risers were treated to a fine display of Common Dolphins, with a pod of at least 40 individuals.

Leaving Santander, the weather had cleared, the mist lifted, and the sea remained calm. Once again, we had another fantastic display from the charming Commons. Both young and old individuals were present, in at least three pods throughout the afternoon. We were also teased by a Beaked Whale sighting, as it blew three or four times in the distance. Here is my last ever photo of a Common Dolphin…

Unfortunately my stint working for Orca over the summer has sadly come to an end. It has been a fantastic experience, crossing the Bay 48 times, recording 12 different Cetacean species, and sighting 1,000’s of individual Cetaceans, as well as Sunfish, Sharks and a handful of wonderful birds! I am sad to have to leave…

My thanks go out to the great team at Orca, and the wonderful work they are dedicated to.

Good-bye from me, and I will leave you in the capable hands of Ben and Zak!


Until next time…


P.S. Spread the word – lets make our oceans the clean, productive and diverse habitat they deserve to be!!! We would not exist here today if it were not for the life-giving power of our oceans, let alone holidaying to Spain on ferries, and enjoying the wondrous spectacle of Whales and Dolphins!


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