Posted by: orcaweb | June 11, 2013

A super pod, Irish Minkies, breaching Stripes and a few Long Finned Pilot Whales.

Greetings from the Pont Aven!

Wednesday 15th June 2013 Portsmouth- Santander

There were no sightings at the dawn watch this morning, but after my presentation some passengers told me that I missed a super-pod of Common Dolphins. One described it as ‘everywhere you looked, there were dolphins jumping out of the water’ – such an amazing sight to see I’m sure! Another passenger also reported sighting a pair of Long Finned Pilot Whales close to the ship. Moving around the ship, he saw another pair behind in the ships wake, which were probably the same ones being inquisitive.

The afternoon deck watch took place in beautiful sunshine, with a good sea state of 3, a very small swell and lots of passengers joining me. We were immediately rewarded with a pod of about 50 dolphins travelling parallel to the ship. Not long after that, close to the horizon I spotted a Sperm Whale logging. Shortly after this an eagle eyed passenger spotted a blow and two medium shapes in the water quite far from the ship, but we couldn’t identify the cetaceans before they dived.

We then had a mixed pod of about 20 striped and common dolphins come towards the ship. Throughout the afternoon we had a further 6 pods of between 10 and 60 common dolphins approaching the ship. We had a possible large cetacean sighting, again quite far from the ship, but with no obvious blow, and we didn’t manage to get a good look at it.

Thursday 6th June Santander – Plymouth

Only one sighting today, and it was immediately as I arrived on the deck for the dawn watch! There were two cetaceans moving languidly through the water near and parallel to the ship. They seemed quite large, were uniformly grey, with large dorsal fins and very beautiful in the morning sun – most likely a pair of pelagic bottlenose dolphins. The sea state worsened to a 4 to 5, which isn’t good for cetacean spotting and remained like that until arriving in Plymouth, hence no more sightings.

Saturday 8th June Cork – Roscoff

Stunning weather and a beautiful sea state meant it was delightful to be on deck. It wasn’t long before I spotted what I thought must be a plastic bag floating in the waves, but realised that it was an ocean sunfish! There were also lots of seabirds around, with groups of Manx Shearwaters swooping close to the water and travelling alongside the ship. There were also many lone Gannets flying over and sitting on the sea, and one very large sea bird with black wings and a white body flew above the ship, flying high above the sea towards the Irish coast. I then spotted something coming out of the water and two very low bushy blows, my first sighting of Minkie Whales!?

Monday 10th June Plymouth – Santander

This morning, on deck I was met by a beautiful sea state of 2-3 and a very small swell. Despite the good conditions, sightings were less than expected! The first one was a Striped Dolphin breaching spectacularly – jumping fully out of the water, twisting over on to its back as it did so. We also saw two small pods of Common Dolphins attracted to the wake of the ship. The watch after the presentation had no sightings, but passengers reported seeing a group of four Common Dolphins five minutes before I arrived back on deck!

Santander – Portsmouth

After filling passengers with excitement about seeing dolphins, lots of them joined me on deck… where we waited, and waited… An hour and a half later, after all but the hardiest passengers had left, the first pod of dolphins appeared! About twenty Common Dolphins milled around, looking like they were feeding, jumping out of the water very little. This was typical behaviour for most of the pods of dolphins we saw on this watch – which as they were often far away, made them tricky to spot. A keen returning passenger was amazed at the difference in the behaviour of the dolphins compared to their spectacular displays on Wednesday! I have noticed that the calmer sea state seems to result in less breaching by the common dolphins. Later in the evening we also spotted a lone Striped Dolphin breaching  several times very dramatically – jumping high out of the water and crashing back down with large splash.

Tuesday 11th June Santander – Portsmouth cont.

This morning’s foggy journey through the western approaches and the English Channel unfortunately resulted in no cetacean sightings. I had lots of interested passengers wandering by and we did see many pairs and trios of gannets flying ahead, behind and around the ship. The Isle of Wight looked very spectacular appearing through the fog!

Here’s hoping the sightings pick up again tomorrow.

Imogen (WO Pont Aven)

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