As we are looking forward to the upcoming 2020 season, we have also been looking back at what an incredible season we had last year.
We are lucky enough to be able to see grey seals on the vast majority of our trips and, thanks to photo identification of their fur patterns, we recognise the regular seals that visit our local seal haunts. Our most frequently sighted seal is a female called Curly Elephant and this year she spent most of the summer hanging out on one of our nearby islands, heavily pregnant. She disappeared for a while to find a safe, secluded place to have her pup and then returned to us significantly skinnier after giving birth to and weaning her pup. Where she goes, we do not know but it is always nice to see her return!
Common dolphins are (unsurprisingly) another incredibly common sighting for us on our Sealife Safaris. However, last year the common dolphins gave us a sight we had never seen before – a newborn calf! We see small calves regularly throughout the season; however, this calf was so young that its dorsal fin was still bent over from being inside the womb. The tiny calf had to leap out of the water to take a breath – an adorable sight which delighted our passengers and crew alike. We were lucky to have such calm and clear conditions that day which provided the perfect view of the calf and its mother swimming closer to the boat to investigate.
In recent years we have started to see an increase in sightings of Minke whales. In previous years, they are a species we wouldn’t really see, but in the last 3 years we have started to encounter them more and more regularly, and this year saw more Minke whale sightings for us than ever before. In fact, we spotted Minkes in every month from April to August, whereas in the previous 2 years we had only seen them around April to May. Fingers crossed this trend continues as they are fabulous animals to see.
Another whale species that visited us last year was the Sei Whales – in the same family as the Minke whale but twice the size! They are rarely sighted in UK waters so this was a real surprise and privilege, causing much excited amongst the crew as well as the passengers that were lucky enough to be on that trip. They are a fast moving animal, swimming up to 40mph so we only spotted it on the one trip before it moved on. However, it just goes to show, you never know what you might see out in the big blue!
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
One last unexpected treat for 2019 was a stunning view of some feeding Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. Until recent years, this endangered species of tuna had all but disappeared from British waters. However, recently there have been an increasing number of reports of Bluefin tuna sightings. We did have a few glimpses throughout the season of what we assumed to be tuna, but could not be sure. This time though, we could see them leaping clear of the water as they chased their prey. An incredibly special thing to witness. So if 2019 was anything to go by, we cannot wait to get back out on the water to see what wonders are out there waiting for us! Why not come and join us!