Posted by: orcaweb | July 10, 2013

Northern Bottlenose Whale and Fin Whale sightings!

Here is another great week of sightings from the Cap Finistere to report! 

04/07/2013- Portsmouth-Bilbao

Today began with a sunrise deck watch, where we were joined by a surprisingly high amount of passengers very early on. Only after a short amount of time, we were greeted by a pod of six followed by another similar sized pod.


Common Dolphins

Even more excitingly, we saw a medium sized whale swimming a few hundred meters away. Judging by its very bulbous looking head, we think this was probably a Northern Bottlenose Whale!!


Northern Bottlenose Whale

After this we saw multiple pods of Common Dolphin pods, sometimes even with some Striped Dolphins carrying out some impressive breaching!


Striped Dolphin


Later in the morning we also saw an oceanic whitetip shark swimming very close to the ship!

Bilbao- Portsmouth

The deck watch during the afternoon was surprisingly quiet in terms of sightings. Although it was exciting to see a few very large and bushy blows that were several hundred meters away as soon as we got back up on deck! Judging by the size it could have been a Fin Whale blow (affected by the strong winds). After this we had one more sighting of a pod of Common Dolphins and saw a sooty shearwater and a great skua!

06/07/2013- Portsmouth-Santander

This morning started with another sunrise deck watch and we started to have many sightings very quickly after coming up on deck- probably because we were travelling close to the edge of the continental shelf. The morning began with a sighting of a pod of seven Common Dolphins…soon after, we noticed some strange splashes in the distance and begun to realise that it was actually a school of breaching yellow-fin tuna fish! We saw more and more pods of Common Dolphin throughout the morning, with one pod that looked to have over thirty individuals! The dolphin sightings were very frequent but at one point we noticed four separate, very tall, columnar, blows close to the horizon. As we were watching these, we saw a Fin Whale surface, and blow, very close to the ship, alongside more pods of Common Dolphins! Perhaps there was a big food source that they were all travelling to? In total, during the morning we saw nearly a hundred dolphins, and even saw some Striped Dolphins towards the end of the deck watch!  The afternoon was relatively quiet compared to the morning, much to our disappointment, despite us travelling over the pelagic waters of the Bay and over the underwater canyons. However we did see a mixed pod of Common and Striped Dolphins and two sunfish! It was also quite entertaining to see a lot of what appeared to be racing pigeons flying past and resting on the ship throughout the afternoon.



07/07/2013- Santander- Portsmouth

We were greeted by the sighting of a medium sized pod of Common Dolphins shortly after we began our 6am deck watch. As we got closer towards the English Channel however, we didn’t see any more cetaceans but this brought us some good views of the spectacular gannet, some great black backed gulls (the largest of the gull species) and a flock of kittiwakes flying close to the beautifully calm waters in the sunshine.





Flock of Kittiwakes

08/07/2013- Portsmouth-Bilbao

Today began with an afternoon deck watch starting at the North of the Bay of Biscay and within just five minutes of turning up, a Common Dolphin pod of eleven individuals appeared! Soon after we sighted a pod of large looking dolphins swimming through the water in distance. These did look to be Bottlenose Dolphins but unfortunately they were too far away to perform a positive identification! More Common dolphins were then seen, along with sighting after sighting of the endearing sunfish, one in particular was huge in size, possibly about six foot in length! We also noticed a few red admiral butterflies flying around the ship- this species actually migrates all the way from continental Europe to the UK every summer to lay its eggs.

09/07/2013- Bilbao-Portsmouth

Soon after we began today’s deck watch, over the deep canyons close to Spain, we saw a medium sized whale breaching out of the water, close to the horizon! Unfortunately, due to the high winds and the hazy sunshine, it was not possible to work out what species this was. Not long after we were greeted by a pair of impressively breaching Striped Dolphins, very close to the ship!


Striped Dolphin

After this we saw multiple pods of Common Dolphin, including one containing two mothers with their calves. It was also interesting to see some migrating swifts and a large flock of fulmars! 

Overall, it has been yet another fantastic week of sightings from the Cap Finistere! 

Chantel and Lucy



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