Dolphins at night
Seeing dolphins at sea is always exciting and often one of the high points of a sailing adventure.
It can never be guaranteed but there are voyages with better chances of seeing them.
You can see our current wild life voyages here.
At night spotting Dolphins is even harder due to the difficulty of actually seeing them.
The trick is to be sailing at night in a sea that has a large bloom of bioluminescence plankton. If you have not experienced this I’ll explain that bioluminescence plankton lights up when it is disturbed and you can see fish, dolphins whales etc.
I can recall two instances in thirty years of sailing so you can tell it’s not a common occurrence.
Lookout Spots Danger
Sailing down the English Channel on the Topsail Schooner the Malcolm Miller I was on lookout duty one summers night. We were heading west towards Lands End from Portsmouth and were off the coast of Dorset. ‘Lookout’ I shouted ‘There are two torpedoes coming straight at us”.
It was a scary sight and if they had been torpedoes I probably would not be writing about it. In fact they were two dolphins swimming in parallel straight at us in bioluminescence plankton. At the last moment they dived under the keel and came up on the other side for a quick look at us before departing together at high speed. Eventually my heart rate dropped back to normal!
Isles of Scilly to Falmouth overnight.
Some years ago I was sailing our pilot cutter Eve of St Mawes back from the fabulous Isles of Silly. To extend our time in the isles we had decided to sail back overnight. Around midnight we sailed into an area full of bioluminescence plankton and looking astern we could see our wake light up in a pale blue light.
The next thing is we spot dolphins playing in our bow wave, both the waves and the dolphins were light up by the plankton. Because of the speed of the dolphins you could see them quite clearly as they moved through the water.
They were playing a version of tag, two or three would by swimming close to the boat keeping pace with us. Another dolphin would streak in from further away and see if it could hit one of the dolphins near us. On a couple of occasions a high speed dolphins would over do it and collide with a hefty thump against the side of our bows.
They kept this game up for nearly an hour, a sight I will never forget.
I hope you to get to see dolphins when you are sailing.