Posted by: orcaweb | May 14, 2014

Crazy Common Feeding Frenzy

Well hello everybody and thanks for joining!

 

This week has been a bit hit-and-miss for us two Wildlife Officers on board Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistere. Our first day was filled with incredible sightings, including two large whales, hundreds of Dolphins and three Long-finned Pilot Whales, kick starting our week with a splash. Unfortunately, this was not to last, but the memories of this great day have been enough to keep us going throughout the week.

 

So, moving on to tales (or should we say flukes…) of those wonderful sightings. We were awake bright and early that Thursday morning, invigorated and ready for a new day. Common Dolphins were the first cetaceans to welcome us that morning, leaping through the waves and showing us their beautiful hourglass markings. It’s fair to say, we never get bored of these wonderfully charismatic animals. Shortly after this, we sighted the blow of a much larger lone cetacean, with another individual being seen about ten minutes later. Despite the fact that these were roughly about a kilometre away from the ship, the splashes were unmistakeable. It almost seemed as if both of these whales were rolling around underneath the surface, creating lots of white water and letting us know they were there!

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However, one of our many Common Dolphin sightings was of particular note, and this was a feeding party of roughly 20 dolphins. They were in an almost red-arrow like formation, side by side in a line to herd their prey. This is something that neither of us has ever seen before in the wild, other than on one of many wildlife programmes, making this a spectacular and memorable sight for both of us.

Later on the Common Dolphins showed us their true colours, with a pod of 40 leaping in to get a free ride in the waves that the boat was generating including several Striped Dolphins. This was incredible for the passengers, as this pod included two mother-calf pairs, who were leaping out of the water in perfect synchrony.

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But alas, all was not as it seemed, as out of the waves leapt a dolphin that was neither common nor striped. Upon closer inspection of the day’s photos, we realised that we may have seen our first hybrid dolphin…most exciting avid readers!!

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As we were drawing closer to Bilbao, our chance of sightings began to reduce, so when three Long-finned Pilot Whales showed up it was a wonderful surprise! They kept us captivated for a good ten minutes, milling around the side of the boat, and rolling through the water showing us their long pectoral fins.

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After this beautiful day, our sightings reduced in number, due to poor weather conditions making cetacean spotting tricky! However, we were lucky enough to sight a few Common Dolphin pods in the days that followed, as well as several whale blows, so we know they are still there!

If you would like to find out more about ORCA please visit our website! You can also support our work by becoming a member for as little as £3 a month!

So now we sadly leave the Cap Finistere with fond memories, and pass you onto our wonderful colleague Kerry!!

Au revoir!!

Katy and Chantelle

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