Wildlife Officers from whale and dolphin charity ORCA have just returned from their first crossing through the wildlife-rich Bay of Biscay. And the excited team were delighted to have spotted the first ‘whale blow’ of the season, as well as a pod of dolphins playing on the bow wave of Brittany Ferries cruise-ferry the Cap Finistère.
The first crossing from Portsmouth to Santander included six wildlife officers, five of whom are new to the team. Three will take residence alongside motorists and commercial vehicle drivers on board Cap Finistère until the 28 September. Others will take to the decks of Brittany Ferries’ flagship Pont-Aven, for services running from 5 April until 5 July.
The Bay of Biscay is one of the world’s hot spots for whale and dolphin species diversity. In total, 31 of the 87 species of whale and dolphin can be seen in the area, including fin whales, sperm whales, striped dolphins and killer whales. ORCA Wildlife Officers use regular sailings to collect vital data on animals sighted from Brittany Ferries vessels. In addition they enthuse passengers with interactive talks, children’s activities, quizzes and deck watches.
“I have learnt so much from ORCA and the Brittany Ferries crew have been so welcoming and friendly,” said Harriet Cole, 27, a new ORCA wildlife officer. “We already had some wonderful sightings of common dolphins playing in the bow waves, and we even saw a large whale blow – although sadly it was too far away to identify.”
This year, with the help of ORCA, Brittany Ferries is hosting seven I-Spy trips with departure dates from June to September. Last year I-Spy passengers reported seeing 2,263 common dolphins, numerous beaked whales and even a killer whale.
The triangular mini-cruises leave from Portsmouth crossing the Bay of Biscay to Santander in Northern Spain before returning to Plymouth on Brittany Ferries flagship the Pont-Aven.
As well as cetaceans, Biscay is great for bird watchers, while Northern Spain hosts some of the most spectacular driving routes in Europe.
For more on whale and dolphin cruises go to: http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/offers/mini-cruises/whale-dolphin-cruise-2016.