MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways “Côte des Flandres” Dover-Calais (23 June 2018)

Siobhan Ford and Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Outbound: Sea state 2-3, dry, few clouds with good visibility.
Return: Sea state 4-2, few clouds, good visibility, some glare.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
A casual sighting by the captain of a seal was noted prior to commencement of the return survey.

Common Gull Larus canus 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 14
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 24
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 13
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1

It was a beautiful bright morning in Dover, after a disruptive night at a local B&B. I met Carol for my first voyage with MARINElife and a new opportunity to put my marine mammal surveying skills back into action- It had been a while! It was also a privilege to be accompanying Carol on her 100th survey for MARINElife.

We boarded the Cote Des Flandres, where we were welcomed by a friendly team and escorted to the bridge where once out of the harbour, began surveying.

Late June brings with it breeding season for many sea birds. As a result, many species were less present as parenting duties command their attention. As a new comer to bird identification, Carol shared her plethora of identification techniques- I have since been identifying birds en route to work!

Gannet Peter Howlett 12We encountered Herring Gull frequently while leaving Dover as well as a good number of Kittiwake. I was excited to see a variety of age groups of Gannet, with Carol sharing her knowledge of the change in plumage between ages.

After a swift turn around at Calais, the Captain excitedly pointed out a seal in the Harbour. This was not recorded as we were not recording at that time, however, a treat to see a healthy seal.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 02The weather still calm however, the sea state had picked up to a 4 as we headed back to Dover. Keenly observing I spotted what I thought was a Herring Gull, to my delight it was a Fulmar- I found it incredibly interesting looking at the variations of birds sighted and learning ways in which quick identification can be used.

Another excited out cry from the Captain lead myself and Carol to observe some humans- swimming the Channel, an interesting observation and identification!

Before long we were entering Dover harbour and retired from the bridge to collect our car and return to Dover.

Our thanks go to DFDS Seaways, the Captain, Officers and crew who were incredibly friendly and helpful at both marine and human species identification! Thank you for continuing to support our research.

Gannet (Peter Howlett)
Fulmar (Rob Petley-Jones)