Sightings Archives: March 2019

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways "Cote des Flandres" Dover-Calais (16 March 2019)

Posted 25 March 2019

Stephen Hedley and Amanda Jones; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Wind WSW Force 5-6, Sea State 5, visibility - moderate

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 103
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Black Headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 26
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 4
Gull sp. 8

We met just outside the port promptly, as advised, more than hour before the scheduled departure. We boarded the ship around three hours later and on arrival onto the bridge we could see that tugs were being used to help ships dock because of the strong cross winds.

Gannet Rob Petley Jones 09Upon leaving shortly afterwards, we spotted 20 Herring Gull close to the harbour wall. Slightly further out Fulmar, Gannet were seen, along with a Kittiwake, Great Black-backed Gull and a Red-throated Diver. Around 15 minutes later we had our first sighting of a Great Skua, sitting on the water, then nonchalantly taking off as we approached. We continued to spy regular numbers of Gannet; easily our most common 
bird of the trip. Just over half an hour into the survey we had a brief glimpse of a lone Harbour Porpoise very close to the ship. This was our only sea mammal sighting of the survey, which wasn't necessarily surprising in view of the sea conditions. On the approach to Calais, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Cormorant and very close to the harbour entrance, two Great Crested Grebe were seen.

Herring Gull Adrian Shephard 03

The turn round in Calais went very smoothly and we were soon on the return leg of the survey. Sightings were similar to the outward leg, the only additional species being Black Headed Gull and Guillemot. A group of 50 Gannet were seen after half an hour at sea. As we approached the Kent coastline, we could see a ferry in front of us that appeared to be motionless. We then heard on the ship's radio that a queuing procedure had been implemented. As a result, we spent an hour waiting at sea, during this time our only sightings were occasional Fulmar skimming the waves skilfully around the ship.

Our thanks go to Captains and crew of the Cotes des Flandres who looked after us on this survey.

Gannet (Rob Petley-Jones)
Herring Gull (Adrian Shephard)