2024 Sea Safaris Underway!

Whale & dolphin sightings


Last week saw the beginning of ORCA’s 2024 Sea Safaris, with our team of ORCA Wildlife Guides and guests departing from Plymouth on Wednesday afternoon ready to cross the Bay of Biscay towards Santander, one of the top five places in the world to see whales and dolphins.

With the chance of seeing ocean giants such as the fin whale, pods of acrobatic dolphins, and elusive beaked whales, everyone was excited to get on board to head down through the English Channel and into the Bay of Biscay.

ORCA Wildlife Guides and Sea Safari guests ready for the first Sea Safari of the 2024 season – Richard Gardner

Shortly after departing Plymouth, ORCA Wildlife Guides and Sea Safari guests joined ORCA’s on-board Ocean Conservationist for a presentation covering the incredible array of cetacean species that could be seen on the trip. Then it was time for a deck watch until sunset, with over 100 dolphins being recorded that evening. Guests were treated to smaller pods of common dolphins feeding as well as a larger pod of over 20 individuals approaching the ship to bow-ride.

Common dolphins seen shortly after leaving Plymouth

It was an early start the next morning, with the blows of large whales being sighted in the distance – how fantastic to see these huge ocean giants starting to return to the Bay of Biscay for the summer months. A few hours in Santander allowed ORCA Wildlife Guides and Sea Safari guests plenty of time to have an ice cream and some lunch, before heading back to the ship to start the return trip to Plymouth.

ORCA Wildlife Guides and Sea Safari guests spotting and identifying wildlife in the Bay of Biscay – Richard Gardner

Shortly after leaving Santander, guides and guests were treated to Ospreys fishing and a pod of striped dolphins close to the ship, as well as a sighting of a large whale breaching in the distance which was seen by a few lucky guests just before sunset.

The cooler weather on the final day of the Sea Safari did not deter the ORCA Wildlife Guides and Sea Safari guests from getting out on deck for sunrise, and throughout the morning, pods of acrobatic common dolphins were recorded. As the ship headed towards Plymouth a large pod of over 30 bottlenose dolphins approached the ship and stayed close by for several minutes, giving everyone out on deck incredible views of these amazing animals bow-riding and playing in the ship's wake.

Leaping bottlenose dolphins in the English Channel – Terry Carne
Over 50 bottlenose dolphins bowriding in the English Channel - Terry Carne

A total of 246 animals of 9 different species were recorded during the trip, with common dolphins being the most frequently recorded species. What a fantastic first Sea Safari of 2024!

Title photo credit - Richard Gardner

There are still a handful of spaces available on ORCA Sea Safaris throughout the summer, leaving from either Plymouth or Rosslare. Visit www.orca.org.uk/watch today to secure your spot on an upcoming trip before the last few places are booked!

Book your Sea Safari today!