Posted by: orcaweb | May 15, 2013

Turtle doves, some well-timed common dolphins and a breaching beaked whale!

Hello there, this is Chantel reporting from the Cap Finistere!

Portsmouth to Bilbao (09/05/2013)

Thursday began with a sunrise deck watch, going over the pelagic waters towards Bilbao. Throughout the morning we saw a few pods of Common dolphins, but it was also lovely to see several beautiful turtle doves flying by, some resting on the ship, on their way to Northern Europe for their summer migration! In the afternoon, on the way back to Portsmouth from Bilbao, I saw my first sunfish of the week drifting alongside the ship, but even more exciting- I spotted a whale blow very close to the horizon…and then another one followed! Due to its huge size and how easily visible it was, I think it was most probably a Fin whale!

Portsmouth to Santander (11/05/2013)

Saturday morning, on the way to Santander, brought me a sighting of three manx shearwaters but to my disappointment, no cetaceans. On I went with the presentation, and with a great stroke of luck, a large pod of common dolphins decided to show up in the wake of the ship, directly behind me just as I finished the talk. All passengers present, instantly rushed towards the window to have a look- what great timing! After some lunch, I then headed back up on deck. As I got up on deck, a passenger approached me saying he had just seen a pod of Pilot whales outside of his cabin window, which meant I had just missed them, oh darn it! He then kindly offered to look out for anything on the other side of the ship for me. I was then joined by many other enthusiastic passengers on the lookout, and we spotted another pod of common dolphins. Further on into the afternoon, I heard “pilot whales!” from my lookout on the other side…I got there as fast as I could, and just managed to catch a brief sighting of a pod of about 7-11 pilot whales, hooray! No other cetaceans were seen during that day, however I did see two migrating swallows; although they were heading south towards Spain…perhaps they changed their mind about coming to the UK?

Santander to Portsmouth (12/05/2013)

As we travelled over the continental shelf, towards the channel, the morning brought me two sightings of pods of common dolphins but unfortunately no more cetaceans were seen that day. However, as we sailed past the French coast, I saw a nice variety of sea birds such as fulmars, gannets, manx shearwaters, great skuas, razor bills, shags, kittiwakes and great black backed gulls!

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A great black backed gull

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A fulmar

Portsmouth to Bilbao (13/05/2013)

I had another sighting of yet more common dolphins (a pod of nine) on Monday afternoon, along with a large number of fulmars, gannets and also a jellyfish!

Bilbao to Portsmouth (14/05/2013)

Tuesday afternoon started with a few sightings of common dolphins as we left Bilbao and headed over the pelagic waters. Not to mention, I also saw an absolutely enormous sunfish, which was actually bigger than the shark I saw not long afterwards!

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The huge sunfish!

A while later, a member of the crew from the bridge told us they had just seen a breaching whale from the other side of the ship! Me and the passengers ran to the other side as fast we could, but typically, we were too late to catch a glimpse. However, later on in the afternoon, I spotted a large splash in the distance…and then a beaked whale, breaching clear of the water, almost vertically! This whale continued with this activity, breaching about four times, back and forth between two points, before disappearing under the water. This may have been a Cuviers beaked whale but unfortunately, it was too far away for a positive identification. What a great end to a week of cetacean spotting!

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