Posted by: orcaweb | May 22, 2014

Peaceful Pilot Whales & Breaching Bottlenose

It was a slow start to the week on board Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistere, the first couple of days providing me with little luck in sightings.  I was finally rewarded for my patience on the way to Santander on Saturday, first thing in the morning (with most sane people still tucked up in bed) a whale blow far off in the distance, almost on the horizon, too far off to distinguish exactly which whale it might have been.  As the morning continued I had many sightings of Common Dolphins, some of which played in the bow-waves for a few moments.

Common Dolphins

Common Dolphins

Around 11:00, just as I was about to head inside for my presentation, a frantic wave from a crew member on the Bridge caused me to rush to the Port side of the ferry to find just 500m from the boat a fantastic Fin Whale.  I had passengers follow me and found more passengers basking in the sunshine on the Port side, meaning that lots of passengers were lucky enough to witness the Fin Whale blowing on the surface just before it dived!

Fin Whale

Fin Whale

Returning after the talk and my lunch, I was reliably informed by passengers that there had been at least two more whale blows on separate occasions while I had been inside… Typical!  Later in the afternoon however, I had a lovely silhouetted view of (probably) Bottlenose Dolphins porpoising in the glare of the sun on the sea.

The weather from Saturday onwards provided me with near-perfect spotting conditions, yet sightings were few and far between, only a few small pods of Common Dolphins.  Although they were only a few Cetacean sightings there were a number of birds to be seen including Cormorants, Whimbrels and juvenile Gannets.  The most unusual bird to be found out in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, however occurred on the Portsmouth to Santander crossing, I first noticed the Collared Doves around 6:30 as we were making our way around the tip of France, I started off with two and as the day went on this number increased to five!  They would fly in the slip stream for a while then land on the ferry and a have a rest, maybe disappear for a while but would return, they stayed with Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistere all day until she docked in Santander.  I decided they must have wanted to hitch a lift from France to Spain!

Collared Doves Hitching a Ride to Santander

Collared Doves Hitching a Ride to Santander

On the final crossing from Bilbao, my luck changed.  The day started with a solitary Sunfish and continued upwards from there.  Over the day there were eighty Common Dolphins, three more Sunfish and a spectacular acrobatics display from 15 Bottlenose Dolphins.

Breaching Bottlenose Dolphins

Breaching Bottlenose Dolphins

To top it off; the final sighting of the day (after a heads up from the crew on the Bridge) four Long-finned Pilot Whales swam sedately past us, only just breaking the waters surface.

Don’t forget you can find out more about ORCA via our website and also join as a member for as little as £3 a month to help us continue our work.

What a wonderful end to the week and my time aboard Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistere!

Kerry

Kerry

Kerry

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