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Spirit of Discovery blog

Springtime in the Caribbean

7th March, 2023

We are currently sailing down the coast of Spain on our way to Funchal just passing Leixeos on our portside after a very smooth passage through the Bay of Biscay. As many of you know, the Bay of Biscay can be a treacherous place with large swells and strong winds but we have been fortunate with the weather, which looks to continue for our Atlantic crossing. A great way to start our Caribbean cruise with a stop in a guests’ favourite, Funchal, before heading west across the Atlantic to our first Caribbean port of Antigua.

Also joining us on our cruise is the charity ORCA, with a team of 4 marine wildlife guides on board, observing from the upper decks come rain or shine. They are a charity that’s entirely dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK and European waters and we are delighted to have them onboard for our cruise to the Caribbean. They work to identify and protect critical whale and dolphin habitats in our waters and beyond. Most of ORCA’s work takes place in UK and European waters, but occasionally their work will take them further afield.

They are currently collecting information on whales, dolphins and porpoises from ferry and cruise surveys in nine main area; English Channel, Celtic Seas, Irish Sea, Minches and West Scotland, Bay of Biscay and Iberian coast, North Sea and Arctic waters. Yesterday we had a pod of 11 Pilot Whales swimming off our starboard bow and down to the stern of the ship which many of us had the chance to spot, along with 9 common dolphins and 10 unidentified dolphins.

For the bird watchers, they spotted a Gannet, Lesser Black-Backed Gull and a Great Skua. Pilot whales are in fact one of the largest members of the dolphin family, but they are treated as whales for the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992. They were named pilot whales because it was thought that each pod followed a ‘pilot’ in the group.

Kind Regards
Captain Darin Bowland, MSc

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.