WILDLIFE

Dolphin spotting on board HMS Ocean!

This week I’ve been fortunate enough to sail on board the Royal Navy’s flagship – HMS Ocean. Inevitably I made the most of the opportunity to get up on the bridge and flight deck as much as possible to see what I could spot… Straight away we caught the glimpse of Pilot whale’s dorsal fin, but with the ship at full speed, it passed pretty quickly.

I didn’t take as many photos as I’d hoped, but saw dozens of seabirds, such as terns, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and guillemots! Though the absolute highlight for me, was watching a pod of Common Dolphins riding the waves caused by the ship’s bow. We were just a couple miles south of the Cornish coast, with Falmouth just in sight on the horizon. Check out my video below!

Being able to hear (and record!) the squeaks they made was amazing. I’ve seen dolphins from the coast before, but the experience of being close enough to hear them is incredible. And they’re actually much noiser than this too – their communication and echolocation signals occur anywhere between 0.2 – 150,000 kHz, which is a much wider than the normal human hearing range at between 20 – 20,000 kHz.

They are identified as a Common Dolphin species by their distinctive pale yellow patches on each side. Other than that they exhibit the usual grey on top/white underneath ‘counter-shading’ colouration, common across most marine wildlife. This has an evolutionary advantage to disguise the animal from predation; either against the sunlight above or darkness below!

There was about 20 dolphins in this group, which is quite a standard for Common Dolphins pods. However they can sometimes congregate together in massive ‘super-pods’ comprising of hundreds, or even thousands of individuals… Imagine that! Mind you, I was more than a bit chuffed with this little pod, it made my year.

3 thoughts on “Dolphin spotting on board HMS Ocean!”

  1. Thats fantastic Ben! What were you doing on the Mighty Ocean? I am ex Royal Navy and served on Ark Royal and Illustrious! Was lucky enough to see a basking shark off Portland and dolohins in the med!

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