Posted by: orcaweb | April 11, 2017

Parlez with Passengers

Bonxie, April 2017

A Great Skua cruising over the waves

This week has brought the start of the Easter holidays, and with it, an influx of
passengers on board the Pont Aven. We were very excited to welcome aboard Mark Avery, the celebrated ornithologist, writer and campaigner. He joined Wildlife Officer Andy out on deck and they managed to spot several pods of common dolphins, a couple of whale blows, great skuas, and a fantastic sighting of a migrating osprey as they moved through the Bay of Biscay. Mark Avery has also blogged about his experience aboard Brittany ferries with ORCA and he highlighted the importance of the survey data we collect and The State of European Cetaceans Report that was published earlier this year.  Check out his blog here


Andy Gilbert and Mark Avery

Wildlife Officer Andy Gilbert (left) with Mark Avery (right)


We had some great trips down through the Bay of Biscay for April. It’s really wonderful to share these sightings with passengers, especially when they are so enthusiastic and their patience is rewarded with some lovely sightings. We had one gentleman from Spain who was desperate to see a dolphin, as he had never seen one before in all his sixty nine years. After missing the first few, Andy helped him spot one before the pod disappeared into the distance. His joy was palpable and Andy was rewarded with an ecstatic hug.

Common clowns_Andy G._ Pont_10-4-17

Some Common Dolphins clowning around in the Bay of Biscay

We were also accompanied down to Santander this week by the Jones family. It was lovely to meet such an enthusiastic and engaged family and they stayed for the whole of our deck watches. They were well rewarded for their perseverance, with common dolphins a plenty, and a few striped dolphins mixed in. We were also treated to a pod of bottlenose dolphins tail slapping for us. We even had a few whale blows and an unidentified beaked whale with her calf. There were lots of smiles all round and I suspect we will see future conservationists from that family.

Sophie and the Jones family_Pont_10_-4-17

Wildlife Officer Sophie with the Jones family braving some chilly winds for some great sightings.

Striped dolphin_Andy G_Pont_10-4-17

One of the striped dolphins in a mixed pod with common dolphins

As we travelled from Roscoff to Cork, we encountered many interested French passengers on their holidays to Ireland. I was asked plenty of questions in French that I could only try to hazard a guess to answer. Since we are working on-board in such an international environment, Andy and I decided to brush up on our French and dust off the Spanish vocabulary for the different routes. We have also been testing each other during our deck watches. Luckily orca is very similar, orca in Spanish, and orque in French. Here’s a short list of some of the names we’ve been practising, perhaps they’ll come in useful for you too!

English French Spanish
Harbour Porpoise Marsoin commun Marsopa
Common Dolphin Dauphin commun Delfín común
Striped Dolphin Dauphin bleu et blanc Delfín listado
Bottlenose Dolphin Grand Dauphin Delfín de dientes rugosos
Long-finned Pilot Whale Globicéphale noir Calderon común
Minke Whale Petit Rorqual Rorcual aliblanco
Fin Whale Rorqual commun Rocual común
Sperm Whale Cachalot macrocephaly Cachalote
Cuvier’s Beaked Whale Ziphius Zifio Común

So we’re looking forward to hopefully a great season of sightings and being able to describe them to passengers three times over, in French,Spanish and English.


Wildlife Officer aboard the Pont Aven


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