This week’s blog is a little different as it's written by not one, but two Wildlife Officer’s aboard the Cap Finistere - double the fun!
I (Louise) cannot believe it is nearly July already! The first three months have absolutely flown by. I just hope the next three go a little bit slower because I never want the season and my whale and dolphin sightings to end! Half way does, however, mark the start of our placement volunteers. I am very excited to be able to share this experience with 3 new people who will be on board for 4 weeks each immersing themselves in ship life and all things ORCA. The first person I have been joined by is Laura, and who better to tell you about her than Laura herself!
Where to begin? Let start from the basics. My name is Laura and I am currently going into my third year of studying Marine Biology and Biodiversity with Conservation. The main reason I applied to be a Wildlife Officer was to experience these beautiful animals in the wild. I am also going to be using the data collected during the 4 weeks for my undergraduate dissertation.
Before coming on board I had no idea what to expect but all I can say is I have not been disappointed! Settling in was made very easy as Louise has been so amazing and supportive, that even within a few hours on board I felt confident enough to meet and greet passengers and explain my role. Not only have I seen so much but also learnt a lot, from seeing my first whale in the wild just metres away from the ship, to spotting my first sunfish and even a shark! Although you can be out for hours on deck and not see a thing it’s all worth it once you do spot something.
This week we have been absolutely spoilt by the calm seas! There has barely been a white cap in sight. It’s a shame we can’t say the same for the rain though! Clad from head to toe in our waterproofs, the drizzle didn’t dampen our spirits, or those of devoted passengers! Luckily it didn’t affect the cetaceans either! We had plenty of whale action on Thursday and Saturday with around 30 (mostly fin whales) in total; some blows on the horizon, others close enough to see them surface! Around the coastal waters we have seen our fair share of common dolphins, a glimpse of two shy harbour porpoise, sunfish and even a shark! To top off Laura’s first week on board, on Tuesday we saw a pod of striped dolphins racing along and three Cuvier’s beaked whales!
As well as the whales, the beautiful city of Santander was a first for Laura! Although the weather was a little grey on approach, once we got to Santander it was lovely and sunny to a high of 30 degrees! Perfect weather for an ice cream and a wander around the parks. This is the first week we have been in Spain and actually been able to understand the locals thanks to Laura’s fluency in Spanish! Emma and I are definitely going to make the most of it and practice talking the language with her!
We are hoping there will be many more firsts in the coming weeks for Laura, and who knows, maybe even the first sperm whale of the season?!
Louise & Laura
ORCA Wildlife Officers – Bay of Biscay