To Fin or not to Fin

Brittany Ferries Wildlife Officer Programme

Bonjour and welcome to our blog from a crazy week on the Cap Finistere. As the schools are starting to break up for summer our ship has been getting busier and livelier with families going on their summer holidays. This week our presentations were full up and our children’s craft sessions have been fun and messy! The seas were very flat and the cetaceans were in full view, we managed to spot 7 different cetacean species and 2 fish species along with several seabirds.

Black headed gul spotted on Thursday. Black headed gull spotted on Thursday

It started with glassy waters on Wednesday. In the channel we came across a huge group of diving gannets and managed to spot a few dolphins amongst the feeding frenzy. The calm seas continued into the Bay of Biscay on Thursday morning and just 20 minutes into the deck watch we had a shark cruise past the ship. We then…

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The Northern Shelf: Our New Number One

Brittany Ferries Wildlife Officer Programme

Hello again readers!

This week I (Clare) was joined by Jenna. Jenna is spending a month on the Cap Finistere with us to train how to become a Wildlife Officer and witness some of the fantastic cetaceans we encounter on our journeys to and from Spain. The Bay of Biscay has been pretty quiet this week with just a few sightings each day, but each one has been pretty spectacular.

Three playful common dolphins Three playful common dolphins

Thursday morning started with a bang (or should I say a blow!), as we stepped out on deck at 5.45am we were greeted with the sight of a fin whale blow! It was our first fin whale sighting for a couple of weeks and Jenna’s first ever baleen whale sighting! Just 10 minutes later we had a large pod of common dolphins leaping towards the ship. With two fantastic sightings before 6am we were very excited…

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Peaceful waters and playful dolphins.

This is what I got up to last week!

Brittany Ferries Wildlife Officer Programme

Tranquil Thursdays really did live up to its name this week with beautifully calm seas throughout the Bay of Biscay all day. The flat ocean made for perfect dolphin spotting with over 160 Common dolphins seen leaping in the bay from 20 different sightings. In the afternoon we were joined on board by the Taylor family, who last week on their southbound crossing had kept us company on deck throughout treacherous weather, but this time they were well rewarded by continuous sightings in the calm seas until the sunset. We were also joined once again by Gavin (who we had met in our first week) and he also entertained us up on deck with stories from his bird watching trip in Spain.

The Taylor family and Gavin helping us spot dolphins. The Taylor family and Gavin helping us spot dolphins.

The Taylor family joined us again bright and early on Friday morning to watch the beautiful sunrise in the…

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Peregian beach, Sunshine Coast, Australia!

I am living in Peregian on the Sunshine Coast for the next 5 weeks assisting with research on humpback whale behaviour. As we are just doing training this week, which gives me a couple of hours in the morning to run / walk along the beautiful beach.

Yesterday as I was running I noticed loads of plastic washed up from recent storms, so walked back to collect it all.





And I also found 2 cigarette butts. . .heaps better than the 13 I found on Noosa beach but more than I ever find in New Zealand!


18th August – Ngarunui Beach

This was an accidental Today’s Catch. I just intended to have a short stroll along the beach to get some fresh air in the evening, but I could not ignore the amount of rubbish that had washed up in the recent storms. There was definitely more I could have collected, but this is all I could fit in my hands as I stupidly forgot to bring a bag with me!


This is what I managed to gather!! 















Brighton is a seaside town on the south coast of England with a population of over 270,000 (plus thousands of foreign students and tourists that flood in during the summer!).
Since Friday 14th June the refuse collectors have been on strike, since then bins have still been put outside of houses and city bins are still being filled up.

These photos were taken on Monday 17th June, just 3days after the strike began. . . . . .



This bin is right outside my house. The size and smell gets worse everyday!


This is right in the centre of the popular north laine shopping area!


Nappies spewed all over the street!

The worst thing about this mess is how close it is to the beach! There is plastic and other rubbish being blown all around the city centre, which is less than a mile to the sea. This rubbish will end up in the ocean and will end up being eaten by marine animals.
I understand that the refuse collectors need to make a point, but the people of Brighton really need to keep their rubbish at home until it can be collected, it’s just a week and it will make a huge difference to the amount of marine debris that will be created by this strike!






Blue Plastic Shavings

Almost every time I pick litter from the beach I find small pieces of blue plastic shavings, and I have always wondered where they come from. I came across this article on the New Zealand Herald website today:

Mystery plastic polluter owns up

It is very surprising these small pieces of plastic come from just one type of fishing practice; it makes me wonder how many of these small pieces of blue plastic floating in the ocean or sitting in animals stomachs!!!

MIDWAY : a film by Chris Jordan

Here is a trailer for a film about the plastic pollution on Midway Atoll. Midway Atoll is situated in the North Pacific Ocean, about halfway between USA and Asia, hence the name ‘Midway’. Because of its location, it is particularly susceptible to marine debris from the Pacific Gyre, resulting in the beaches getting swamped by plastic pollution.

This film is a bold reminder of the extent of our world’s plastic problem; it is such a horrible sight to see.

There are 1.5million Laysan Albatross inhabiting the Midway Islands, traces of plastic have been found in nearly all of these birds digestive systems, furthermore a third of Albatross chicks die due to plastic caused starvation!

Midway: a plastic Beach

The state of this Atoll demonstrates the extent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and really proves the severity of the world’s plastic problem. So there should be no excuses to collect litter off the beach, limit use of disposable plastics and recycle as much as possible!

Catalyst: Plastic Oceans

Catalyst: Plastic Oceans  was recently aired on ABC in Australia.

This show is about the current research on marine debris by CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and it highlights the plastic pollution problem in Australia.

The flesh footed Shearwater populations on Lord Howe island are an example of how bad the plastic pollution problem has become; many shearwaters, both adult and chicks have been many found dead with stomachs full of plastic. Examinations of these birds show they are the most contaminated marine bird populations on the planet; they had concentrations of mercury up to 1000-3000ppm; anything above 4.3ppm is toxic to birds!
Plastic that has been in the ocean for many years acts as a sponge to contaminants in seawater, and they stick to the surface of the plastic. The surface of marine plastic has been found to contain 1000times more contaminants than in the surrounding seawater. This is also a major issue for humans, as these toxins accumulate up to food chain, ending with us!
So everyone needs to try and avoid using single-use plastics…and if it is absolutely necessary make sure they are reused or recycled!


Link to CSIRO website for more information on the marine debris project

Plastic Sharks and Seals in the UK

Shark with plastic around nose prompts litter warning

Recent footage taken by a kayaker off the coast of Niarbyl, Isle of Man shows a basking shark with plastic around its nose. Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world; it is crazy that even these ocean giants can be hugely affected by our littering.

This is the second case of marine mammals being caught in plastic in Manx waters recently; a female grey seal was spotted in July with plastic netting wrapped tightly around her neck. Unfortunately because seals are aggressive and fast it was not possible to cut the plastic.

Well I am off to collect some plastic & rope from Whale Bay, hopefully it will stop some of the marine mammals that inhabit the waters of Raglan getting caught up!


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