Beaked Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins and a Harbour Porpoise sighted in the North East Atlantic

24th May 2013

Summary of Sightings

Species Number Sighted
Common Dolphins 1175
Striped Dolphins 28
Bottlenose Dolphins 5
Fin Whale 1
Cuvier's Beaked Whale 2
Sowerby's Beaked Whale 2
Harbour Porpoise 1
Whale blow 1
Unidentified dolphins 6
Unidentified small cetaceans 5
Sunfish 1

Biscay survey, 19th - 21st May.
English channel
Sea state 3-4.

We had a brief sighting of 5 small cetaceans that were probably Common dolphins or Harbour porpoise but because they stayed low in the water we couldn't ID them. Shortly after this we saw a single Harbour porpoise.

Sea state 3-4.

The day started with sightings of Common dolphins and this continued through the morning with a few Striped dolphins untill 08:30 when we spotted a single dolphin size cetacean ahead of the ship. It was bringing its head clear of the water and didnt appear to have a prominent beak.
It was then that an adult Cuviers beaked whale surfaced beside it and we realised that this was a Cuviers beaked whale calf. Its behaviour at the surface was that of a very young animal and it could not have been more than 2 metres in length, I am sure that this was a newborn calf and certainly the smallest that I had ever seen.

After more dolphin sightings and reaching the southern end of the canyons we saw two large splashes in the distance ahead of the ship, this was breaching whales but to our suprise not only were these beaked whales they were in fact Sowerby's beaked whales. There were two whales putting on a perfect display and breached around ten times.With more dolphin sightings before reaching Santander we all agreed that it had been an amazing morning.

Again with a sea state 3-4 we soon started to have more dolphin sightings untill 17:55 when we had our first Fin whale and a single rorqual blow 10 minutes later. The rest of the day resulted in many more dolphin sightings and it was clear that for now Biscay belongs to the dolphins.

English channel.
Sea state 3-4.

The channel was very quiet untill crossing into the middle of the two shipping lanes off the channel islands where 5 Bottlenose dolphins appeared in front of the ship.

Birds. Gannet, Manx shearwater, Storm petrel, Great skua, Fulmar, Guillemot.

As always special thanks to Brittany ferries for making us feel welcome.

Survey team, Paul Burley, Stephan Voigt, Fiona West, Caroline Bagnall.