MARINElife Survey report: DFDS Seaways ‘Dunkerque Seaways’ Dover-Dunkirk 4th May 2013

Carol Farmer-Wright and Claire Trew, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outbound Increasing cloud wind SW 7-8, sea state 4-6 visibility good.
Return leg SW 8-10 sea state 6-8 visibility good to poor.

Summary of sightings:

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 18
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 18
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 27
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 57
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Razorbill Alca torda 7
Unidentified Auk sp.  1
Unidentified Tern sp.  1

Terrestrial Birds
Feral pigeon Columba livia 1
Unidentified Goose sp.  1


We arrived at the Port of Dover and were quickly advised of our lane to join the 'Dunkerque Seaways'. On boarding the ship we were immediately invited to go to the staff mess to have lunch before beginning our survey.

Visibility was good on the outward leg, white horses were visible on the sea but the sun appeared and we could see clearly to the horizon some 22 km away.

The breezy conditions were ideal for Kittiwake, Gannet and Fulmar that appeared as soon as we had cleared Dover's outer breakwater. The central area of the Dover Straits was relatively quiet but as we approached the French coast we started to see Sandwich Tern feeding. We arrived at Dunkirk and watched Captain Ridout and his officers manoeuvre the ship onto the berth.

Sandwich Tern Carol Farmer Wright 01
Sandwich Tern (Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

An hour later we were heading back to Dover. The sea had become livelier but again we were able to see Sandwich Tern, Gannet, Kittiwake and the occasional Razorbill as we returned to the Kent coast. Sadly no cetaceans were seen on this trip, the sea state being just a little too high to view the diminutive Harbour Porpoise regularly encountered on this route.

We left the bridge having thanked Captain Ridout, his officers and crew for looking after us while completing the survey. Special mention must be made for the excellent tea and biscuits provided by Tim on the return leg. Our thanks also go to DFDS Seaways for supporting MARINElife in enabling us to survey this important route.