I am always excited to be heading out on any of my dedicated wildlife cruises with so much activity and sightings recently offshore. Today was going to reveal one of nature’s true magical moments and as I often happily compare it to Sir David Attenborough’s fascinating documentary series.. a real Blue Planet extravaganza.. there is no denying my gift … my eye sight and my ability to pick things out that most people never see.
Today my thoughts were to head Free Spirit east as it’s been a while since we were able to go that way. However, as we were happily slowly heading east, I spied some Giant Blue Fin Tuna busting up just offshore on my 4 o’clock.. Stopping and turning back so everyone could get a better look, my eyes couldn’t help but see.. away, away, on the distant western horizon, some six miles off from our current position, a huge flock of birds. Just dots, in truth.. resembling what looked like giant swarm of bees. Now I always get particularly excited by an observation like this, so bringing my Swarovski’s up to get a better look, yes sure enough my eyes hadn’t deceived me. There was a huge flock of birds offshore, but there was a boat nearby. Hmmm.. was this flock associated with the boat i.e. a trawler, as is often the case when so many birds are seen way offshore. So zooming in on the boat, I decided the birds were not associated with the boat as they were quite a fair way up wind of said boat.. importantly, the boat in question was not a trawler. With my pulse racing, I informed everyone over the PA what I had seen and throttled up to close the gap and hopefully get to all these birds before all the activity and commotion had stopped as six miles takes quite a time to get to and as quite often is the case.. whatever this feeding frenzy was regrettably could subside by the time we got there. So with Del boys immortal words “He who dares wins Rodney” coming to mind, we excitedly headed off to try and close the miles..
Some thirty five minutes later and about a mile off from this vast flock of Gulls and a handful of Gannets, I slowed Free Spirit right down so I could get my Swarovski’s back up to search through and below this mass of squawking and flapping wings. Several BONXIE Great Skua’s were marauding and picking out individuals to harangue. A lone Sooty Shearwater was definitely a bonus bird at this time of year as most have now passed through on their migrations.. Eighty five percent of the birds were Herring Gulls, along with their bigger cousins, the Greater Black Backed Gulls.
Switch my focus to now scan below, it didn’t take long for me to pick out FINs.. FINs of multiple feeding pods of Common Dolphins. Ten here, six there, twenty, rushing across to the right. But then, to my absolute excitement, “ Thar She Blows !!” We had a Minke Whale too.. was there one or were there two. This vast feeding frenzy covered about a quarter of a mile and was very fluid, continually moving. What we had observed and located all those miles away was a huge shoal of Herrings and Sprats which the gulls were continually plucking off the surface as the Common Dolphins herded and drove these poor terrified fish to the surface. We guesstimated +- one hundred Common Dolphins surrounding and within this vast bait ball and a large adult Minke Whale, possibly two who were also feeding but deeper and below within the Herring shoal. The Minke Whale/Whales were down for about ten to fifteen minutes before they would re surface to exhale, have three breaths and down they would go again, making it tricky to determine if it was just the one individual or two.
The whole mass never stopped moving and by the time we had finished recording, filming and photographing it all, we had covered a further 4 miles. Several times Giant Bluefin Tuna also erupted in their explosive feeding frenzies, the noise from all the birds making it one of nature’s true magical moments offshore. I’m delighted to inform and share with you all.. this bodes well for the winter and New Year. With the Herring, Sprats and hopefully Mackerel and Pilchards coming back in to spawn, more spectacular sights and sounds like this will unveil in the rich and sheltered waters of Falmouth Bay. Humpback Whales, hopefully once again will return to our beloved Cornish Seas like they have been doing now for the last five years. So it’s most definitely “exciting times ahead”.. Please do wrap up warm again now as the temperatures are falling and it’s always much cooler offshore.
My dedicated wildlife cruises are happily still available up until the 10th of December when Free Spirit is booked to come out of the water for her annual maintenance, TLC and a new bigger HP engine fitted. Then she will be back in the water on the 25th of January 2018, once again available daily throughout the week for the whole season ahead. If you would like to find out more and about our Gift Vouchers which make a unique and exciting gift for all, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01326 316098/ 753389. Video and photographs will follow soon.
Huge Bait Ball comprising of Herrings and Sprats, +- 100 Common Dolphins, multiple feeding pods, Minke Whale Adult circa 24ft feeding, possibly two(?), SOOTY SHEARWATER, late bird, 2 BONXIE Great Skuas, +- 1000 Herring Gulls, +- 45 Greater Black Backs, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Gannets