Sea creatures to look out for when cruising
Whether at sea or on shore, there are plenty of opportunities to see amazing wildlife whilst enjoying a cruise. Here are some of the sea creatures you can catch from your cruise ship or discover whilst at port if you keep your eyes open:
You're most likely to see dolphins whilst entering or leaving port, rather than in the open sea. These playful, highly intelligent animals will often follow the wake of a ship (the disturbance it causes as it cuts through the water). Head to the rear of the ship and hang out at the promenade deck for the best chance of catching a sight of them.
Many cruisers report seeing dolphins on Mexican cruises in particular. You'll also frequently see harbour porpoises as you come into land. Porpoises look similar to dolphins but have a rounded snout, rather than a pointy one, different shaped fins. Porpoises are shyer and also smaller than dolphins.
They may sound too fantastical to be real, but flying fish are a real creature and many regular cruisers report seeing them on every cruise they go on. Unlike dolphins, you'll tend to see these in the deep water of the open ocean rather than at port, and often in the warmer weather. As flying fish are smaller than dolphins they can be harder to spot but keep an eye out along the side of the ship. Cruisers often report seeing these around the Bahamas in particular.
You'll get a better chance of seeing whales in some parts of the world than others, especially while they are migrating. Each year it's thought that a third of the North Atlantic's whale population migrates through the waters around the Hebrides, so this is a terrific place to try and catch species including minke, humpback, sperm, fin and pilot whales. On Hebridean cruises, you'll also get a chance to see other species, such as porpoise and seals. Icelandic waters are also a good place to see whale, often depending on the season. If you prefer a warm weather cruise, Australia or South Africa are good places to catch these huge creatures in their natural environment at certain times of the year.
Some cruises will offer excursions to see various wildlife whilst at port. Many cruisers have enjoyed trips to see sting rays up close. Other passengers have reported seeing rays such as manta rays whilst at sea. If you're keen to see stingrays, try a cruise that takes in the Cayman islands.
Other sea creatures
Remember too that many cruise ships are able to offer scuba diving excursions as part of their programme of activities. Scuba diving, or snorkelling, is an amazing way to get closer to ocean wildlife. The Great Barrier Reef is inhabited by around 1500 types of fish, 350 kinds of coral, several thousand species of mollusc, and ten thousand species of sea sponges. At different times you can also see turtles and several varieties of shark, as well as many sea birds. If you cruise the reef, make sure you take advantage of the scuba diving and snorkelling expeditions on offer.
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