First I-Spy trip sightings report!

15th Jul 2014

Bay of Biscay 8th – 10th July 2014
(Portmouth – Santander – Plymouth)

ORCA Guides: Elfyn Pugh, Richard Allcorn, Mary Hill and Christine Jones

Summary of Sightings

Species Number Sighted
Common Dolphin 107
Bottlenose Dolphin 4
Striped Dolphin 4
Unidentified Dolphin 9
Cuvier's Beaked Whale 6
Harbour Porpoise 1

We embarked from Portsmouth in showers and grey skies but thankfully with the thunderstorms behind us as we headed past the Isle of Wight, the skies cleared and the sea settled. From then on the weather was generally very kind, overall mostly sunny and relatively calm with little wind on the way south, albeit strengthening on the final day as we headed home. With the sea conditions favourable, ranging from sea state 2 to 4 (relatively calm to some white caps and a minor swell of up to a maximum of c2 metres) the outlook for our Whale & Dolphin I-Spy trip was cautiously optimistic.

- Common Dolphin by Elfyn Pugh

The optimism took a bit of a hit the next morning, as we rose at first light still north of the Continental Shelf. With a good representation of our guests joining us as the sun rose, we had hoped for some early activity but patience was the order of the day, with our first sightings of Common Dolphin not being until mid-morning as we crossed the Shelf. Common Dolphins became regular company, although in low numbers, as we headed south, whilst 4 other individuals, somewhat more robust than our usual companions and unidentified at the time, have generally been accepted on photographic evidence, as Bottlenose Dolphins by the wider ORCA social media community.

- Bottlenose Dolphin by Elfyn Pugh

Whilst the playful Common Dolphins are always a joy to watch racing into the ship, the best sightings of the day were the Cuvier’s Beaked Whales, with two solitary, very scarred males logging close to the ship just after the Shelf and then in more familiar southern waters, two pairs moving past, one of which was possibly a mother with a calf.

- male Cuvier's Beaked Whales by Elfyn Pugh

Cetacean numbers remained low on the return trip, with a scattering of Common Dolphin and a solitary Harbour Porpoise the total return for a lot of patience and deck time by the guides but also by the enthusiastic and excellent group of guests that were on the mini-cruise. The beautiful and fascinating islands and lighthouses of the Ouessant coast of Brittany was a further highlight, whilst a lot of the guests were interested in the large number of naval vessels that accompanied us back into Plymouth.

Our thanks goes out to the Captain and crew of the Pont-Aven for making us welcome.  There are still another five trips departing in August and september and it's not too late to book a place!

We are running an advanced cetacean ID special during the 9th-11th September led by ORCA trainers Stephen Marsh and Lucy Babey.  We are also delighted to announce that television presenter and ORCA patron Chris Packham will be guest guiding on our 16th - 18th September cruise.

If you would like to join us please visit, or call 0871 244 0441 quoting Y14WWC


Wildlife Checklist:

Other Marine Life
Ocean Sunfish   1
Unidentified Shark   1

Manx Shearwater   7
Cory’s Shearwater  14
Great Shearwater  2
Gannet    Present
Long-tailed Skua  1
Fulmar    3
Shag     Present
Cormorant    Present
Razorbills    2
Yellow-legged Gull   7 (in Spain)
Black Kite    3 (in Spain)