Posted by: orcaweb | July 9, 2014

Cuvier’s steal the show

Hello and welcome back aboard the Cap Finistere. Fellow Wildlife officer Amy Grisdale was in town and waved us off (from a rollercoaster of all places) as we set off for the Bay of Biscay.

Wildlife officer Amy waving goodbye

Wildlife officer Amy waving goodbye

With a wonderful low sea state to start are week off we were both eager to see what Biscay had in store. Approaching Bilbao for the first time this week we were treated to numerous sightings of Common dolphin pods that, by the end of the day, had totalled over 200 individuals. One pod was also a mix with Striped dolphins and hybrids. On our way into Bilbao we sighted two Cuviers beaked whales and another three on the way out, which included two very heavily scared males.

Cuvire's beaked whales

Cuvire’s beaked whales


Striped dolphins

Striped dolphins

Throughout the day we were told of some fantastic sightings on the other side to our deck watch. These included more dolphins, whale blows, Pilot whales and a breaching whale. We will just have to hope they pass on Starboard side next time. We were treated to many more dolphin sightings that evening as the vibrant red sun set over the Bay.

A beautiful sunset

A beautiful sunset

There were no sightings to speak of during the Channel and as we passed the Brittany Peninsular on our way down to Santander, the sea state picked up to a 6 which meant we were no longer able to survey although we stayed out on deck to look out for any incidental sightings. Throughout the day and closer to Spain the sea calmed and we were greeted by two separate pods of over 30 Common dolphins. The passengers were thrilled to see them come so close.

Two of the fourty Common dolphins

Two Common dolphins

The next few days were spent surveying in coastal waters, on Sunday there were no sightings as we made our way towards Portsmouth. The sea state had changed for the better however the skies were still very much overcast. Monday also lacked marine mammal sightings and the only sun to be seen was in the form of a sneaky Sunfish. As we made our way past the islands and light houses we did spot a few Collared doves and pigeons flying above us.

Lighthouse passing Brittany

La Vieille Lighthouse passing Brittany

Setting sail again for our final Biscay crossing of the week we were very disheartened to see a sea state 4/5 as we departed Bilbao. Fortunately, by the time our survey started, it had dropped to a state 2 and we were very pleased to see some distant dolphins passing through the suns glare. This did mean we were unable to identify the animals however that did not stop some young passengers from getting very excited. Just a few minutes later a pod of 40 Common dolphins came past the ship, very close indeed and they had some small calves with them too. A few more Common dolphins followed and an unidentified splash finished our sightings for this crossing. We now hand you over to Chantelle and Amy and will see you in two weeks time.

Katy and Becky pointing to the Cap Finistere in Santander

Katy and Becky pointing to the Cap Finistere in Santander

Becky and Katy


Don’t forget, you can support ORCA’s work by becoming a member for as little as £3 a month.  You can also read about all the latest news from the charity on the ORCA website.

Also the first of the I-spy whales mini cruise set off aboard Brittany Ferries Pont Aven. They passed by the Cap Finistere in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Pont Aven

The Pont Aven


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