On Wednesday, myself (Yolanda) and Elena boarded the Cap Finistere for the penultimate week of the 2016 Wildlife Officer season. We didn’t see any cetaceans during our deck watch on Wednesday evening, but as it was a lovely sunny summers evening we both enjoyed being outside watching soaring seabirds and the dancing green waves.
Unfortunately, Thursday was a different story. The swell was so heavy that the outside decks were closed in the morning, meaning we had to cancel our deck watch. After battling through an unforgettable presentation where lots of merchandise and leaflets slid onto the floor during some of the bigger waves (the show must go on), we were unsurprised to learn that the decks were still closed. However, this did give Elena more time to work on her project – a model of the Bay of Biscay. This comes complete with giant squid lurking in the trenches, lighthouses around the Brittany Coastline, and a model of the Cap Finistère!
After a disappointing yet memorable day on Thursday, we were very pleased to find that the decks were open again on Friday morning. There was lots of white water, making it harder to spot cetaceans. However, a pod of bottlenose dolphins came bounding towards us out of the spray – a sighting at last!
The next crossing, departing on Friday afternoon, got off to a great start with our ORCA quiz. Our champions scored a record-breaking 20 out of 20 – well done! The following day was Elena’s final trip to Santander. It proved an exciting crossing as during the journey, we saw three pods of common dolphins, along with the blows of two large whales (most likely fin whales) in the distance.
On Sunday, we had a beautiful calm sea with only the faintest ripples – perfect conditions! Over the course of the morning, two pods of common dolphins came swimming towards the ship to play in the wake. Due to the lovely calm waters, we were also able to spot another pod of dolphins feeding in the distance.
On Monday, we saw a grand total of 32 common dolphins in several different pods. This was probably because we were sailing through a fantastic feeding area as we also saw lots of seabirds such as gannets and Great Shearwaters circling and diving.
Tuesday was Elena’s final day on board. It was a wonderful sunny day, with a beautiful calm blue sea. We saw lots of fin whales in the distance, and two fin whales surfaced really close to the ship. Towards the end of the deck watch as we were about to go inside, we saw four common dolphins swimming next to the ship beneath the water – a fantastic end to our deck watch!
If you would like to make a donation to help fund the fantastic work that ORCA do, or to become a member and train to become a Marine Mammal Surveyor to help us collect our vital scientific data, please visit our website for more information!