Posted by: orcaweb | June 17, 2014

Dinner and a show!

With the delayed start on board the Brittany Ferries Pont Aven and the news of more Orca being sighted that day we were desperate to get back in the Bay of Biscay, with the hope we would be able see one of these magnificent animals. However with getting into Santander in the early hours of the morning meant that we would be going over the best of the bay during the night.

We were up bright and early the next morning with keen eyes and were rewarded with a glimpse a stealthy Harbour Porpoise swimming away from the ship, this was our only sighting on Wednesday morning.

However after the talk when we’d layered up in our thermals we were ready for action and headed out to see more cetaceans. One eagle-eyed passenger managed to spot the infamous precursor of greedy Gannets diving for their dinner on the horizon. Sure enough a Fin Whale blow appeared right in the middle of the flock– A stunning sight!

Yet this was not all, as a flurry of large splashes appeared about 700m away from the boat, indicating that a large animal was breaching out of the water and generally having a whale of a time. Through our binoculars, we could see the dark shape of the individual, and noticed 2 fairly large black fins closer to our boat. After some speculation as to what animals these fins belonged too, we decided they were most likely Risso’s Dolphins, making this sighting a first for both of us!

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Could these be Risso’s?

After this sighting, the Bay seemed to quieten down, so we popped in for a bite to eat ahead of our evening deck watch. Naturally, the life of a wildlife officer is cursed with always-looking-out-of-the-window disease, and so whilst eating our dinner we kept a close watch on the waters outside. It seems that the cetaceans were keen to join us, as both Common Dolphins and Striped Dolphins gave us a show outside of the window, as well as an incredible whale blow just 300m from where we were sat. With that, we hurried back upstairs, and were instantly greeted by a whale blow as soon as we were back up on deck. We were inundated with whale blows and dolphins right up until sunset.

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A close encounter with a Fin Whale!

Thursday morning came, and so did the whales, about 7:30am we spotted a huge blow directly in front of the ship, we quickly grabbed our bags and rushed over to the other side of the ship in the direction that the whale was travelling, and we’re so glad we did, about 100m off the ship  we saw a majestic Fin Whale casually swimming away from the ship, giving us several big blows before it dove down.

This was all for part one of Katy and Chantelle’s Biscay Adventure on the Pont Aven during our time in the Channel sightings became  a little lax, however when coming into port in the Emerald Isle that is Ireland, we spotted a lone Seal bobbing along 30 minutes before docking- a nice surprise.

Upon leaving Plymouth on the sunday eve, we spotted a large dark shape floating in the water – but this was not of the mammalian variety. It was a submarine! This held our attention for a while, until we spotted two dolphins just a few hours outside of the port.

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It’s a submarine!

We were excited to return to good waters on Monday after several days in the channel, and made sure we were up on deck bright and early at 5am. We were lucky enough to sight a whale blow and several pods of dolphins that morning, but nothing more. However, we knew we would be passing over the same water in the afternoon, so we were not disheartened. After a false start from Santander, we saw lots of mixed pods of Common and Striped dolphins playing in the sunset that evening. As we watched the sun disappear over the horizon, we said our farewell to the Bay of Biscay and our time aboard the Pont Aven.

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Common Dolphin leaping

Until next time,

 

Katy and Chantelle

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