Posted by: orcaweb | May 1, 2014

Second Sighting? More Beluga-like Cuvier’s Beaked Whales?

Rough weather ahead…

Following last week’s calm weather and sightings in their hundreds, this week has not been quite as hectic. The first few days with calm weather were promising as we saw many Common Dolphins, including a pod of around 45 individuals. They all leapt out of the water towards the boat for all to see, before diving beneath Brittany Ferries Cap Finistére (looking almost penguin-like) to the port side and out of sight.

A Common Dolphin swimming under the Cap Finistere, looking almost Penguin-like

A Common Dolphin swimming under the Cap Finistere, looking almost Penguin-like

Half an hour later, the excitement escalated as a pod of six Cuvier’s Beaked Whales surfaced about 700 metres away from the ferry. This included 3 males (apparent from clear scarring), 2 females (including a very large individual), and a calf. The individuals sighted though, were not an ordinary pod, two of the males were so heavily scared that they looked like Beluga’s, appearing almost completely white! Perhaps these were the same individuals sighted a few weeks ago by Becky on the Pont Aven? Either way, they were quite a sight!

Cuvier's Beaked Whales

Cuvier’s Beaked Whales

Head of a Male Cuvier's Beaked Whale

Head of a Male Cuvier’s Beaked Whale

Very scarred Cuvier's Beaked Whale (almost Beluga-like)

Very scarred Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (almost Beluga-like)

Thursday afternoon returning from Spain with new passengers in tow, the Torrelavega Canyon did not disappoint. Patience was critical however, as our first sighting was not until a few hours into the crossing, just after a few of our initially determined passengers had popped inside. Briefly we were once again by ourselves on deck 10, when a pod of 7 Common Dolphins appeared by the side of the boat. Simultaneously, a passenger called Mark was banging on the windows loudly shouting ‘dolphins, dolphins!”. With surprise on his face Mark explained that he had been about to inform us that we were ‘wasting our time’, but as the thought bubble was about to transpire into actual words, the dolphins appeared, quickly diminishing that trail of thought!

Pod of Common Dolphins

Pod of Common Dolphins

During the remainder of the week, gale-force winds and a high swell swept the seas producing a spray so frequent it ensured that not one person ventured outside. Those inside even struggled to walk in a straight line. Needless to say, rough weather had certainly hit the Bay of Biscay. While Cetaceans were lacking, there were a few other interesting appearances. Not long after sunrise on Saturday morning, we observed what looked like a lone sailing boat looking worse for wear, bouncing up and down in the high waves as it “sailed” passed us. We suspect it had broken away from its mooring buoy not being too far from the Northwestern tip of France. Luckily, we could not see anyone onboard.

Lone sailboat in the rough weather

Lone sailboat in the rough weather

Other unexpected encounters included a stowaway dove that flew past us one morning, heading towards Spain which appeared again on our way back to Portsmouth. I’m sure the dove had quite an adventure! Other bird sightings included a Razorbill, Guilletmot a Swift, a small flock of passerine birds (resembling sparrows or robins) and more surprising, a Curlew-like bird that we managed to get on camera! More sightings of these curlew-like birds followed this morning in the Channel.

Dove tag-along

Dove tag-along

A flock of Curlews

A flock of Curlews

A Curlew-like bird?

A Curlew-like bird?

Despite bad weather and a sharp fall in Cetacean sightings, we have still enjoyed talking to passengers about what we might have seen if the weather was better. We also amused ourselves watching kids who we had recently been given ORCA stickers then stick these on the backs of their unsuspecting dads. Kids will be kids, and it just goes to show, you never know where or when a dolphin or whale is going to pop up.

Just when I thought the awful weather was going to stay, I am glad to say, that it improved dramatically for my final crossing across the Bay (hope you enjoyed my accidental rhyme!). The good news does not end there, it was calm enough to spot eight separate whale blows on Tuesday in the Southern part of the Bay, as well as two rather strange additions to the list: 2 sunfish (Mola mola). Seven out of the eight whale blows were very clear tall column-like blows and so I am quite certain they were Fin Whales, some even being caught on camera.

fin dorsal

Fin Whale

fin back

Fin whale surface roll

However, the eighth blow was rather puzzling, as it was low and bushy, and the roll of the animal was alot smaller than that of a Fin whale. My guess is that it may have been a rarer species such as the Northern Bottlenose Whale or a Sei Whale. To close the day with a glorious sunset, I saw 3 pods of Common Dolphin equating to 45 individuals that day. So yet again, not too bad for the final crossing!

Common Dolphins in the sunset

Common Dolphins in the sunset

Fingers crossed the weather improves further for Amy and Katy who will be taking over from us. But, future passengers look out if it continues to be rough, you may find yourself with an ORCA sticker on your back!

– Ruth and Kerry

Kerry and Ruth

Kerry and Ruth

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: