Posted by: orcaweb | April 23, 2014

Rare Encounters: Spectacular Sowerby’s

What a start to the week, as I left Bilbao on Thursday afternoon there was an almost non-stop supply of cetacean activity. In just 5 hours we had 118 individuals from 8 different species, starting with the angled blow of 2 Sperm Whales, quickly followed by groups of Common Dolphins, Striped Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins.

Common Dolphin With It's Reflection

Common Dolphin With It’s Reflection

Mixed in with the constant stream of dolphin sightings we spotted a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale and 5 Fin Whales; 3 in one pod including a calf. To cap off the day, a wave from the captain caused myself and the passengers (who had sacrificed the warmth of inside) to rush to the opposite side of the boat. Here we were rewarded with a pod of Pilot Whales swimming leisurely past Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistere.


Fin Whale Blow

Fin Whale Blow


Fin Whale

Fin Whale

The 8th species of the day which I have not yet mentioned was spotted by Jim Glover and Chris Skinner, two keen wildlife observers, while I was finishing off my presentation inside. I almost didn’t believe them due to the rarity of the species, but they then provided photographic proof, of which I have provided for you courtesy of Jim and Chris. They spotted a group of 5, including 2 calves, all breaching clear of the water. The animals they spotted were the elusive Sowerby’s Beaked Whales!

Breaching Sowerby's Beaked Whales

Breaching Sowerby’s Beaked Whales

These photos were more fantastic than I could have imagined, and I was very jealous that I missed seeing them for myself. I can only hope that they make another appearance sometime over the summer!

This first wonderful day was followed by another full of fantastic sightings, unfortunately fewer sightings occurred over the next couple of days. However, when Ruth who had been on holiday in the Isle of Wight until Sunday (incidentally managing to catch sight of Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistere as it passed the Isle of Wight) re-joined me on board we had a wonderful final day of sightings.

The day began with a pod of Pilot Whales and Common Dolphins spotted through the windows of Deck 8 just before starting the Wildlife of the Bay of Biscay presentation. The day continued with sightings of Fin Whales and a Sperm Whale and her calf. With most being spotted by 10 year old twins; Ben and Ollie, who spent almost as much time up on deck as we did!

Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale: Mother and Calf

Sperm Whale: Mother and Calf

We thought that we had been treated to the return of the Sowerby’s Beaked Whales as there was an animal breaching clear of the water, albeit quite far from the ship. Upon closer inspection of photos taken by ourselves and Carlos, a frequent Brittany Ferries passenger, we decided it was not as hoped the return of a mysterious Sowerby’s Beaked Whale but a large, lone, acrobatic Bottlenose Dolphin. Perhaps all that bottled up energy needed releasing… he did put on quite a show!

Acrobatic, Lone Bottlenose Dolphin

Acrobatic, Lone Bottlenose Dolphin

This week has been as beautifully calm (touch wood) that we could ask for in the Bay of Biscay, definitely helping with the spotting of the many Whales and Dolphins we have seen this week. Here’s hoping for another week the same, if not better than the week we have just experienced!

Kerry and Ruth

Kerry and Ruth

Kerry and Ruth



  1. ❤ I like it, you 're the best!! 😉

  2. Reblogged this on ccondeco's Blog.

  3. Hi Kerry
    Its now just over a week since coming back from Bilbao. I am thrilled to see Jim’s fantastic photo on the site. The whale watching that day was new to me as was any species of whale. I found your knowledge and the knowledge passed on by Jim and Chris very inspiring and the photos taken mean I will be going out and purchasing a good camera and telephoto lens for my next trip out to Bilbao hopefully next spring. Good luck for the summer and fingers crossed you get some more great days whale and dolphin watching.

    Best Regards
    Gavin Stableford

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: