Sunday, 24 August 2008

Biscay Wildlife Cruise, 16th - 21st August 2008

I have crossed the Bay of Biscay several times before, mainly on the Brittany Ferries ship the Pont Aven sailing between Plymouth and Santander and have had some memorable wildlife sightings.  However, this time. accompanied by Bill Aspin and John Wright we spent six days on a dedicated wildlife cruise, spending a good amount of time over the rich waters of the continental shelf.

Our journey began on the ferry from Dover to Calais where we boarded our cruise vessel, the Princess Danae.  Setting sail in the early evening, we spent some time on deck noting the following bird species for the first day - little gull, common turn, common scoter, black tern, dark-bellied brent goose and raven.

Day two was slow going through the relatively unproductive shallow waters of the English Channel where we added bonxie, arctic skua, manx shearwater, balearic shearwater, storm petrel and the first cetacean, harbour porpoise to the trip list.

Days three to five saw us over deeper water of the continental shelf in initially reasonable conditions but with a strengthening swell that on day 5 kept many passengers in their cabins.  The calmer conditions produced sabines gull, sooty shearwater, storm petrel, arctic tern, arctic skua, long-tailed skua, hundreds of cory's shearwater, great shearwater and a red-backed shrike (just of the northern coast of spain).

The cetacean species including superb views of a lunge-feeding fin whale, long-finned pilot whale, common dolphin, striped dolphin, and bottle-nosed dolphin.  In addition ocean sunfish were regularly seen.

More species were seen by other passengers as a whole and gives more details.

Here are some of my own photos from this memorable trip.
Fin whale

Long-finned pilot whale

Long-finned pilot whales

Fin whale

Fin whale

Ocean sunfish

Sabine's gull

Sabine's gulls and common term

Cory's shearwater

Great Skua (bonxie)

Long-tailed skua

Bottle-nose dolphins


Great Skua