Posted by: orcaweb | April 10, 2013

First Wildlife Officer blog for 2013!

image_2 (2)Portsmouth – Santander – Portsmouth

Monday 25th March

Today we began our deck watch at 14:00, and it was pleasantly calm with little wind and with a sea state of 2, the conditions for cetacean observation looked to be great. We were greeted by many gannets and came across a colony of greater black backed gulls and a flock of shags flew by. Despite the amount of birds we saw, hours went by without any cetacean sightings (probably because we spent most of the day in relatively shallow waters). But at 17:45, towards the end of our deck watch, we were very grateful to see a pod of 4 beautiful common dolphins swimming towards the ship. It was a fleeting glance but none the less, these dolphins were a fantastic end to a cold day of cetacean spotting.


Portsmouth – Bilbao- Portsmouth

Thursday 28th March

Today we started nice and early to make the most of the fact that we were travelling over deep (pelagic) waters on our way to the Spanish coast, and it began with a few good sightings of common dolphins. At around 8am however, we were amazed to see a fin whale pop up right in front of us, beside the ship! It was so close we could even hear its movements and its huge blow! We only saw this incredible animal for a few seconds before it submerged into the water again and disappeared from view but it was a great sight to see. (The deck watch was 6am-11am). On top of that we also got a nice, close view of a cormorant flying beside us. After a successful presentation, we began an afternoon deck watch until sunset (16:30-18:00), in which we saw many groups of the beautiful common dolphin (including a juvenile with its mother) and a sunfish floating along the surface of the water! Overall we saw 16 common dolphins in total.


Fin Whale March 2013

Friday 29th March

We woke up to very high winds and a sea with a high abundance of white water in the coastal waters near the English Channel, so the conditions were not great for cetacean spotting. No cetaceans were seen during this time (8:30-9:30am) however, we did see a great skua struggling against the wind.

Portsmouth – Santander – Portsmouth

Saturday 30th March

Due to the high sea state it was difficult to see any cetaceans throughout the whole day; however, we did see a sunfish drift past in the afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow morning will bring us some luck as we pass over the northern shelf!

Sunday 31st March

Again, the sea state was not good for cetacean spotting and we were greeted by very high winds outside on the top deck, however we did get a brief sighting of a common dolphin swimming alongside the ship early in the morning (around 7am) and saw a variety of sea birds, such as kittiwakes, a puffin and many gannets.

Monday 1st April

The sea state was calmer today and so conditions were more acceptable for cetacean spotting. A few groups of common dolphin were seen throughout the afternoon.

Tuesday 2nd April

Today was a beautiful sunny day with a sea state of only 2 so it was easy to spot any cetacean in the sea. We saw many large pods of common dolphin (some with possibly over 60 individuals!), and even observed a few striped dolphins in some mixed pods and got some great close views! It was an amazing sight to see so many dolphins racing towards the ship, including a few mothers with their calves. After a couple of hours of seeing hundreds of dolphins, we then went through a period of seeing no cetaceans as we headed towards the evening, until we saw one last pod of common dolphins.

Ana & Chantel (Cap Finistere)


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