Posted by: orcaweb | April 23, 2014

A Biscay Bay Manic Monday

So, my week started off initially very quietly. I had given my presentations and dedicated time to standing up on deck looking out for wonderful marine wildlife, being joined by several excited families who were oh so very keen to get a glimpse of any cetacean, many having seen none before. Yet, hours passed, and over several days of watching on Wednesday and Thursday we only saw several small pods of Common Dolphins and a few Harbour Porpoise.

So on Monday morning, I got up onto deck 10 for half six, scoping out the side with the best conditions for surveying in. As soon as I got up there and took my first look out to sea, a plume of spray shot up into the air about 500m away from the boat-an unmistakeable blow. Excited, I obviously carried on watching, and soon discovered that there were in fact 3 animals travelling together alongside the ship. As it was so sudden, I was unable to get a positive identification. Yet, upon liasing with the ORCA survey team who were on board the Pont Aven, I discovered they were in fact 3 female Sperm Whales travelling together-the first I have ever seen. The next hour and half on deck was just as exciting, with a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale sighting, as well as several pods of Common Dolphins coming in to play in the wake of the ship. I then gave my presentation, and eagerly awaited the afternoon.

Sperm humps

Sperm Whale


After having greeted the passengers boarding the ship, I soon discovered that I was to be joined by several of the families and other travellers who I had seen only a week ago, and little did they know, the Biscay had lots in store for them to see on the return travels. Not long after we had left Santander, my first sighting came along-a solitary Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, traversing the canyons to most likely feed on some tasty squid. But that was only the beginning. After this, sightings began to come in thick and fast. We had several hundred Common Dolphins in total, with many mothers with calves being spotted, as well as Striped Dolphins being mixed in with these groups. But the cherry on the cake had to be all of the wonderful Fin Whale sightings, numbering at about 6 for me that afternoon. It was incredible, the huge blow unmistakeable, with one animal only about 200m away from the ship.

The best bit about all of this though?

Well, being able to share it with the wonderful passengers we had on board. I know for sure that lots of people caught their first glimpse of cetaceans yesterday, after having been with me on the way over and searching for hours up on deck, that patience was well rewarded.

Orca Balloon Hat!

Orca Balloon Hat!

I am incredibly delighted to have met all of the wonderful people on board this last two weeks, with some great stories embedded in my mind, and I just want to thank you all so much for making this past two weeks incredible. I hope everyone goes on to see many more cetaceans in the future, with lots of the young passengers I have met pursuing their dreams of being marine biologists/photographers!


All the best and see you in two weeks,

WO Chantelle Barry


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