Posted by: orcaweb | July 27, 2016

“What a wonderful way to start the holiday”

Yolanda is back with me for my final week aboard the Cap Finistere; Lucy and I had an exciting time last week and I am expecting good things this week.

Our first night in the channel was challenging with high sea states, however after finishing our deck watch conditions improved and we awoke to beautiful conditions for our trip across the Bay of Biscay. Despite really good weather it was a while before we saw our first sighting of a small pod of feeding striped dolphins followed about ten minutes later by a beautiful sunfish.

Ocean sunfish

Ocean Sunfish

rainbow3

 

After another small group of feeding striped dolphins, we were greeted with a whale surfacing not too far away and watched it blowing off the back of the ship. A couple of distant medium cetaceans surfaced and after Bilbao we greeted new passengers to a really still Biscay. Unfortunately despite excellent conditions, sightings were fewer than expected, with six bottlenose dolphins starting us off shortly after leaving Bilbao. This was followed by a medium cetacean seen breaking the surface briefly and an unidentified shark shortly before finishing the deck watch. After the survey as it was getting dark and whilst talking to passengers, an unidentified beaked whale surfaced next to the ship. As the sun set, a fabulous rainbow appeared, followed by a pod of possible pilot whales.

 

The following morning we awoke to unbelievable channel conditions where numerous  common dolphins and harbour porpoise were seen.

Harbour Porpoise

Harbour porpoise in the English Channel

After a quick turnaround in Portsmouth we headed back for my final trip to Santander and what a great day this turned out to be. With numerous common dolphin sightings we reached the abyssal plain where we saw nine fin whales with passengers telling us there were several sightings port side and one especially close whilst we were doing the presentation.

The next day, joined by some hardy passengers who had taken us at our word when we told them there was a good chance of seeing dolphins from six in the morning, the common dolphins arrived on cue as soon as we arrived on deck and continued to show throughout the morning with a single brief sighting of two possible harbour porpoises until we went to do our presentation.

common dolphin

common dolphin

It was my final trip across to Bilbao and the passengers, especially all the children, were keen to see some cetaceans and as the family presentation was underway a couple of dolphins were spotted in the wake. Having explained to passengers that it would be unusual not to see dolphins at some point in the afternoon we started our deck watch to a full deck of passengers. Despite excellent conditions it was sometime before we had any good sightings, occasional pods of common dolphins. Many wanted to see whales and we explained that it might be possible if we reached the northern shelf edge before nightfall. So when it became apparent that we would reach the shelf we explained to the passengers that we were going off watch to get some work done and eat dinner and we would be back out for the northern shelf, where we hoped we may get more and hopefully varied sightings.

When we returned some passengers said they had only had an occasional dolphin but one passenger, an ORCA member and his father had managed to catch an orca sighting thirty minutes before, on the opposite side of the ship. This gave us hope that more sightings were likely and we immediately had a single common dolphin leaping to the ship.

This however was on the start of what would turn out to be a fabulous evening, as we approached the shelf edge I said “watch out for anything as there is deep water on the horizon” and immediately the first blow was spotted this got people on their feet. The word spread, and it wasn’t long before a second, then a third blow occurred.

This continued until it was almost too dark to continue with nine fin whale sightings, however with excitement at fever pitch the children were continuing to scream with delight spotting numerous whale blows in all directions. It was such a fantastic evening and everybody came and personally thanked us with one lady saying “what a wonderful way to start the holiday”.

fin

fin whale

 

Some lives were changed tonight, including mine, it was such a great final trip to Bilbao with such amazing people I will never forget it.

The final day dawned and I gave my final presentation after which we went on deck and although there were not many sightings before we started, passengers had told us they had seen two whale blows and three cuvier’s beaked whales.

After three fin whale sightings we went to the children’s activity and when we returned to the deck passengers had seen numerous whale blows, including a good sighting not far from the ship and plenty of dolphins and tuna leaping.

striped

striped dolphin watching us!

We started with a small pod of striped dolphins and numerous common dolphins with many passengers again thanking us for making them aware of what was out there.

I have had the time of my life and would like to thank the passengers and especially ORCA and Brittany Ferries for allowing me this fabulous opportunity, Yolanda and Lucy have been brilliant and the crews so friendly and helpful.

Thank you so much Mary

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