On Wednesday evening we had the boat ready to go for our sunset cruise and with all the guests on board the boat we headed out of the harbour and towards the islands.
My crewman Chris was chatting to the guests while I steered the boat to the islands. When Chris came back into the wheelhouse he made himself a cuppa and sat down then all of a sudden he said I think I’ve just seen a harbour porpoise.
I quickly stopped the boat and waited to see if it would come back up again. We both kept on looking when Chris said there it is, but we knew there and then it was not a porpoise but a dolphin. All our guests were getting excited by now, and then it just disappeared. We waited for a little while and then it surfaced again. My jaw dropped to the deck and I ran back into the wheelhouse, grabbed my camera and started taking pictures. After it surfaced a couple of times, I looked a Chris and said I’m sure its a Risso’s Dolphin. In fact I’m positive it is.
It was on its own and gently moving through the water very slowly only surfacing on occasions. When we did get a good look at it you could see the white scars covered along the side of its body and of course the most noticeable thing about it was it’s bulbous forehead with no beak. It also had tall dorsal fin which was also covered in scars and I have later read that the more scars it has, the older the dolphin is, but to be honest in the heat of the moment I was not bothered how old it was but more excited about seeing such an unusual species. It was my first and if it was not for Chris spotting it in the first place I would never have seen it, so thank you Chris.
I have also found out that the last time a Risso’s were sighted at the was back in September 2014, so if we were never out on a sunset cruise we would have never seen such a beautiful mammal, and the Farnes would have missed a great record. This is only the 7th sighting and is rare for the Farnes and the last sightings were in 1996, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2014. I also received a text saying that Risso’s were seen of Howick, St Mary’s Island and Newbiggin in early July and I was also told that they are not keen on boats so they will avoid detection for long periods of time. This would make total sense and this is why we waited and waited before it surfaced again, but eventually we lost it in the evening sun so we continued with our sunset cruise with massive smiles on our faces. Well I was anyway.
During the cruise I could not stop thinking about how unusual looking it was compared to Bottlenose Dolphins and it made me realise what a special place this is and I get the opportunity to do it every day and as the sunset cruise came to the end we topped it all off with a cracking sunset over Bamburgh Castle on the way home.
I have to thank Chris for a great spot and to all our guests who joined us last night. Thank you and if I have the wrong dates or wrote something wrong please let me know as I would love to learn more.