Posted by: orcaweb | June 12, 2013

Breaching Minke Whales and Breaching Beaked Whales!

Hello everybody, it is Chantel again with this weeks blog for the Cap Finistere!

06/06/2013- Portsmouth to Bilbao


Common Dolphins

Dolphins galore! Woke up to many dolphins outside my cabin window so rushed up on deck not long after sunrise. There were a good number of passengers at the 6am deck watch and saw pod after pod of dolphins, (some pods were of over 40 individuals!). Some looked like they were feeding, since they were milling around the water with just their dorsal fins visible, which meant they would have been hard to spot if it hadn’t of been for the beautifully calm sea. Many Common Dolphin pods were seen and the larger pods also contained some Striped Dolphins!

08/06/2013- Portsmouth- Santander

During the deck watch in the Bay of Biscay, I saw four sunfish go by, a variety of seabirds such as gannets, great skuas, fulmars, migrating collared doves, lesser black backed gulls and kittiwakes. Then patience persevered and we saw the quick roll of two Minke Whales emerge quite close to the front of the ship…and then the downpours started and we had to retreat to shelter. After no more sightings I went through with my presentation and afterwards heard reports of Common Dolphin pods that passengers saw whilst having their breakfast! During the afternoon deck watch I spotted yet another two Minke Whales close to the horizon breaching out of the water repeatedly, possibly lunge feeding and also saw a tuna leap out so I think it could have been possible that these two species were feeding together. As the afternoon went by, we saw a lone Common Dolphin, a pod of Striped Dolphins and a small pod of three Pilot Whales swim close by. Seeing them so close reminded me of their large size, and the fact they look deceptively bigger than the larger whales as more of their body is visible out of the water. The sea became quite rough later on in the afternoon so it started to become very difficult to see anything with a high sea state, immense sea spray and high winds, so we had no more sightings that day.

09/06/2013- Santender- Portsmouth

No cetaceans seen but we saw a lot of birds off of the French coast such as shags, great black backed gulls and gannets.

10/06/2013- Portsmouth-Bilbao

Today we had an afternoon deck watch in the shallow waters of the channel so it wasn’t a surprise that no cetaceans were seen but many lovely passengers joined me up on deck. We saw five sunfish, a pair of sooty shearwaters, many gannets, lesser black backed gulls and a kittiwake!


A young Gannet

11/06/2013- Bilbao-Portsmouth.

After 3-4 hours of waiting with some determined passengers since lunch time and seeing nothing besides one juvenile gannet, I finally managed to make out a large splash close to the horizon, despite the high sea state and large amount of white water around.  A few seconds  later I spotted two beaked whales breaching clear out of the water just where I saw the splash and then once more before we were too far away to keep watching them. Luckily, the passengers managed to catch the whales the second time they breached! Unfortunately I didn’t have a close enough view to identify what species of beaked whale it was but it was a great sighting none the less! We then saw a great skua and a sunfish float by and then a few small and medium sized pods of Common Dolphins doing what they do best-porpoising beside the ship, including two calves!

Here’s a map showing my weeks sightings:

Cap Finister WO Sightings 06-06-13--11-06-13

That is all I have to report for this week!

Thanks for reading!




  1. Interesting stuff, but would you tell us WHERE you saw all these lovely sites?

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