Sightings Archives: December 2015

MARINElife blog: DFDS ‘Malo Seaways’ Dover-Calais (20 December 2015)

Posted 02 January 2016

Adrian Shephard and Jonny Lawson, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: SSW-SW wind force 4-6

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 8
Common Gull Larus canus 31
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 268
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 180
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 6
Guillemot Uria aalge 34
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 160
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 24
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3"Baltic"
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus fuscus 1
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 2
Razorbill Alca torda 5

BT Diver Adrian Shephard 02I met up with Jonny in the port to discuss his first MARINElife survey and after a coffee, we boarded Malo Seaways and headed to the bridge to start the survey. Conditions were quite blustery, which made it challenging to spot marine mammals, but ideal for seabirds.

After a flurry of gulls in the harbour, we started our survey and we soon picked up Guillemot, Gannet and Kittiwake. Other gull species were recorded including Great Black-backed and Herring Gull. As the French coast came into sight, we had a brief glimpse of a couple of Little Gull and the first Black-throated Diver of the trip.

With the harbour at Calais in sight, Jonny spotted a fleeting Harbour Porpoise surfacing and we then saw a Grey Seal not far from the harbour entrance. The captain informed us that seals are often seen around the moorings in the harbour itself especially when fishing vessels are in.

Great Skua Adrian Shephard 06We watched the efficient way the ship was unloaded and reloaded and before we knew it, we were back at sea with another Grey Seal making an appearance off the starboard side of the ship. More species of seabird were recorded including a number of Lesser Black-backed Gull including a dark so-called "Baltic Gull", Great Skua, a few Fulmar and Razorbill.

As we neared Dover, the seabirds were coming thick and fast and we struggled to keep up with the Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet, Common and Herring Gull whirring around in front of the ship bringing an end to a very productive survey with over 700 seabirds being recorded.

Thank you to all the crew of Malo Seaways for a great survey.