Posted by: orcaweb | May 7, 2014

A Complete Fluke!

This week we were reminded of the unpredictable nature of the Bay of Biscay. Some days we were inundated with sightings, and others we saw nothing at all.

A good start so far, seeing over thirty animals on our first day back on board, we were only joined by a few passengers in the morning due to the early start and uninviting weather conditions, but in the afternoon we were joined by many excited passengers eager to see some marine life. The Bay did not disappoint, once again it did us proud. After only twenty minutes of being back out on deck after the talk and a quick bite to eat we saw a lovely Fin Whale. Seeing that blow will never get old. Soon after that we were joined by four Cuvier’s Beaked Whales! While everyone was dashing about trying to catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures, I struggled against streaming eyes to see them, luckily I managed to see a couple of fins, but it was nothing compared to the sight everyone else saw. They hung around the boat, just long enough for Amy to get some incredible shots!

Cuviers 1

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale



As I was recording the sighting, a Fin Whale popped up at mere 100m off the boat. Wrestling with log sheets and the GPS I quickly entered in the data, all the while hearing everyone shouting “There it is, there it is again!” I literally have never written so fast in my life, it paid off though as I managed to see the final blow as the Fin Whale disappeared. An exciting morning to say the least!

With all the timings currently all over the place due to poor weather conditions we arrived in Bilbao mid afternoon, the time we would usually be leaving. This time we left just before 6pm and even though the sun was due to go down in a matter of hours, we held an impromptu deck watch, as we knew we would be going over the canyons again as we left. We informed passengers that we would be on deck to see what the Bay of Biscay has in store, and with a successful morning we were sure they wouldn’t be disappointed!

It was true, we had some amazing sightings right up until sunset, an hour into the journey we were lucky enough to see two dolphins breaching about a kilometre off the boat, unfortunately at this point no passengers had joined us, however our screaming and shouting “Dolphins!” soon sparked interest from some passersby. And the few who stuck it out with us to the end were treated to several more sightings, some came so close they were crystal clear beneath the water as they dove under the ship. Our last sighting was such a lovely way to finish off, ten dolphins passed directly in front of the boat through the sunlit ocean, a beautiful sight to say the least and both the passengers who had stayed with us (and had unfortunately missed the first few sightings) saw their dolphins at last, as they popped out of the water. It really was a lovely way to end our first full day back on board the Cap Finisteré!

On Saturday morning we were pleasantly surprised to be joined by passengers during our sunrise deck watch. After hours of sighting nothing but waves, we were thrilled to see a pod of six Common Dolphins, swiftly followed by five Bottlenose Dolphins. As our watch drew to a close, a particularly eagle eyed passenger reported seeing something black in the water. As we gazed on, transfixed, a Sperm Whale who had been logging on the surface catching his breath began to dive and showed us his enormous beautiful tail fluke. This was a new sighting for both of us officers, and it left us giddy and excited for the rest of the day. This was definitely a highlight of the week.



Sperm Whale Fluke

Later in the day we saw more Common Dolphins, and the Sperm Whale spotter struck again with his mighty sighting skills and spied a Fin Whale blow roughly a kilometre from the ship. The blow was magnificently tall and, due to the absence of wind, shot up in the sky as straight as an arrow.

All too soon we arrived in Santander, and after a quick game of ship-wide hide and seek it was back to business.

Tomorrow came, and with it brought fresh sightings of animals. While still inside after finishing our talk, we spotted a large pod of Common Dolphins following the ship. We fled upstairs to grab our cameras, and captured dolphins leaping out of the water, coming within metres of the ship. The pod consisted of at least 60 animals, and we saw the pod contained both Common and Striped Dolphins. When on watch later we saw many more Common Dolphins, as well as a flash of a fin that we weren’t able to identify. What was this mystery animal? We have the entire summer to investigate, we may well encounter it on a future crossing!

If you would like to find out more about ORCA or join as a member, please visit our website!

Common 2

Common Dolphin


Until next time!!


Amy & Katy





  1. I enjoy reading about your encounters with the Dolphins and Whales while on board Cap Finistere.Will look forward to travelling on Ship soon.Hopefully in June.
    Thank you

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