MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways “Côte des Flandres” Dover-Calais (19 March 2016)

Melissa Goulton and John Little, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Overcast, some light rain, wind force 3-7

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Seabirds:
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 25
Unidentified auk sp. 9
Unidentifed gull sp. 3

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 04John and I met up prior to our survey, and shared stories about the marine mammals that we had seen when we have been out at sea. As it was the first survey we had both carried out since the beginning of the year, we were keen to begin looking out for marine wildlife.

Cormorant Graham Ekins 03Shortly into our journey we began to see a variety of seabirds; including Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull and Kittiwake. The crew chatted to us about the cetaceans they had seen on the Dover-Calais ferry route recently, and kindly brought us coffee whilst we were looking out to sea. As we approached Calais we recorded a couple of Cormorant flying low over the water and, whilst in port, we watched the gulls circling around the ferry looking for food. We were both impressed at how quickly vehicles were unloaded (and reloaded) at Calais, and it was not long before we were back on the return leg of our survey towards Dover.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 15About half way towards Dover we recorded our first marine mammal sighting. John noticed the harbour porpoise's fin near the bow of the ferry, and then I saw a slight splash as it headed away. Considering there were quite a few white caps, it was great that we noticed the porpoise. This was the only marine mammal sighting of our survey, but as we travelled closer to Dover we continued to record many seabirds; including Guillemot that were flying fast over the water, and lots of gulls as we entered the Port of Dover.

All in all a great trip, and thanks to all the crew for enabling this survey to run smoothly.
Photos:
Kittiwake (Peter Howlett)
Cormorant (Graham Ekins)
Harbour Porpoise (Peter Howlett)