Posted by: orcaweb | September 4, 2013

Commons, Striped, Bottlenose, Pilots, Fins and Cuvier’s!!! =D

Portsmouth – Bilbao 29/8/2013


A pair of Cuvier’s Beaked Whales

What a great morning we had today!! We awoke to find ourselves in the middle of the Bay, it was a sea state of 1 and a swell of around 1m. It was quite a wait before our first sighting but it was worth it. It was a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins containing seven individuals breaching in towards the ship. Half hour later we had a sighting of two Cuvier’s Beaked Whales swimming in the opposite direction to the ship, neither of them had scarring suggesting they were females but we were able to make out the top of their pale heads. Within the next half hour we had three sightings of Fin Whales, two pods containing three individuals and another containing 4.

Four Fin Whales spouting

We had another two sightings of Fin whales soon after, one on its own and a pair. The next sighting we had was of a mixed pod of both Common and Striped dolphins attracted to the ship. The Striped dolphins were doing some great belly flops as they re-entered the sea. Just before we arrived in Bilbao we also had another sighting of Striped Dolphins swimming and breaching far out from the ship.

The afternoon as we left Bilbao was very very quiet. The only sightings we had been that of a pod of Striped Dolphins and a pod of unidentified dolphins. The Striped Dolphins came right into the bow of the ship giving us a really great view of their grey blaze and black stripes.


Striped Dolphin

Portsmouth – Santander 31/8/2013

Wow! What a day! The morning started off well, we had two Common Dolphin sightings in the space of 15minutes. One pod contained over 60 dolphins. The next sighting we had was very strange, at first we mistook them as dolphins but they were in fact very acrobatic tuna, which seemed to love jumping in the wake of the ship. We then had a sighting of a small pod of Striped Dolphins followed half hour later by an extremely large Fin Whale, as we were still north of the shelf this was a surprise sighting! Soon after this we spotted two Pilot Whales surfacing near to the ship, one of which was creating a lot of splash, as it was slapping the surface of the sea. A pair of Cuvier’s Beaked whales was our next sighting, one had a very white back, indicating it was a male (as males fight each other for females and territory) and the other was very brown suggesting it was a female.


A pair of Cuvier’s Beaked Whales (right – poss male, left – poss female)

 After another Fin whale sighting we then went in for the talk, whilst we were setting up there were another 3 sightings of Fin whales blowing quite far from the ship.


Striped dolphin breaching

Back out on deck and it was a while before we had our first sighting of the afternoon. It consisted of a pair of Fin Whales blowing and swimming very close to the horizon, this was followed soon after by a probable Cuvier’s Beaked whale sighting quite a distance from the ship. At the same time we had a pod of Common and Striped dolphins attracted to the bow of the ship breaching as they came. It gave everyone a very clear view of their patterning.We then had a pod of around 15 Bottlenose Dolphins near enough for us to spot their large dorsal fins and their very dark colouring. The final two sightings we had of the day were of two pods of Fin Whales, the last one containing four individuals. This was the closest sighting of Fin whales we’d had all day and everyone on deck was able to view their jet black back.


A pair of Fin whales

Santander – Portsmouth 01/09/2013

Compared to many weeks, we had a good day in terms of sightings in the north of the bay. This morning consisted of two small pods of Common Dolphins. Containing both two and four individuals, and breaching in towards the ship. The afternoon also consisted of two dolphin sightings. This time they were Bottlenose dolphins and seen around half way out from the ship.


Bottlenose Dolphins

Portsmouth-Bilbao 02/09/2013


Common Dolphin

At four in the afternoon, we were up on deck ready for the deck watching. The conditions were perfect. The sea was like a mirror. We didn’t have to wait long for the first sighting, because 15 minutes later we saw our first pod of Common dolphins with five individuals. Throughout the afternoon, we saw more pods of Common dolphins.One of them had about 35 individuals. In total we had five sightings during the first two hours in which we could see these beautiful animals surfacing and playing with the waves that the ship makes, so the passengers who joined us were able to see these dolphins very closely! The next couple of hours were very quiet but before we left we enjoyed an incredible sunset.

Bilbao- Portsmouth 03/09/2013

Just arrived on deck after the talk (about 12:30) when we had our first sighting. It was a Fin whale! Unfortunately it was very fast and the whale quickly disappeared. It seemed like the afternoon started very well. Also, because some passengers told us they saw two Fin whales swimming near the boat right after we finished the talk. However, the evening was unusually quiet … In addition sea conditions were not very good. However, nothing else appeared until 18:43 pm, when we were already on the continental shelf and we could see some small groups of Common dolphins coming towards the ship! This last sightings were exciting and beautiful and at least worth the wait!


Common Dolphin

Well, this has been our great week aboard the Cap Finistere, particularly as it was Katrina’s final time aboard. We are looking forward to more adventures which we can tell you about next week!

Thank you and see you soon!



Katrina and Ana



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