Posted by: orcaweb | April 17, 2013

The first two weeks aboard the Pont Aven

1/4/13

Today is Monday and it was the first day of being back out on deck watches as well as the first presentation to the public.

Although the weather was bad and the sea rough (a sea state 4/5 with around a 2 metre swell), all went very smoothly. Started very early out on a deck watch and despite the bad weather we managed to see 6 pods of common dolphins; and a mixed group of common and striped dolphins; creating a total of around 100 individuals in total. It was a lovely to see these elegant animals jumping clean out of a wave straight into another one. We were in the prime location throughout the day to see whales as well as the dolphins, but unfortunately the wind was too strong to see any blows.  Despite this all on board are looking forward to what we can see tomorrow morning within the channel.

A really lovely girl asked me today…

‘What is the difference between a porpoise and a dolphin?’

For all of you that don’t know the only difference is the shape of their teeth. A porpoise has spade like teeth like our (a humans) molars, whereas dolphins have sharp conical teeth like our (a humans) incisors.

3/4/13

Saw 2 pods of common dolphins this morning just over the Northern shelf of the Bay. However, once again the Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphin eluded me in the rougher seas of the English channel on our way into Plymouth. I will keep my eyes peeled over the next few days as we venture to Roscoff and Cork, and let you know if we spot anything.

4/4/13

The channel was only a sea state 3 today before we reached port. However, the harbour porpoise is still eluding me. Seeing such a small animal (2m in length) against lots of white caps is hard. Fingers crossed tomorrow in the Bay will bring us more luck with cetacean spotting.

Imogen the other wildlife officer on board the Pont Aven joined me yesterday and she is obviously the good luck charm! We’ve had around 25 sightings today, majority of them being common dolphins in pods of around 10-15 individuals. Within these pods though we’ve seen many juveniles alongside their mothers, which was so nice to see. On our way back from Santander this afternoon the swell had picked up to around 2-3m in height, but sea state was still good. We saw a couple of whale blows near the horizon, which we think were from large rorqual whales such as the Fin or Sei whale.

However, our luck came in later in the afternoon around 2hrs out of port. We were invited to the front of the ship, and within 5mins of being there we had a pod of around 100 dolphins swimming from every direction straight for the bow. It was such an incredible sight! This was shortly followed by a shout from the port side of the ship when we saw 2 medium sized whales which we believe were Northern Bottlenose whales!! This was incredibly exciting as these whales are very hard to see and their numbers have been declining within the last decade. Back out on deck we saw a few more small pods of common dolphins coming into the starboard side of the ship, creating a prefect end to a perfect day.

After our amazing day on deck, I think we were both feeling very pleased at the numbers of individuals we saw but also the array of species. It has definitely got us very excited for what we are going to see in the days and weeks to come.

Katrina

Image

Katrina & Imogen

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Responses

  1. I am excited too, can’t wait to read about it ! Good luck girls


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