MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Dunkerque Seaways Dover-Dunkirk 6 December 2014

Adrian Shephard and Thomas Fisher; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

NNE-NW 3-5 . Bright and sunny.

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatas 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 563
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 12
Common Gull Larus Canus 9
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 139
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 7
Kittiwake Risa tridactyla 129
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Unidentified Gull Sp 970
Unidentified Auk Sp 3

Terrestrial Birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 11

Bright and sunny conditions greeted us as we headed to Dover for this month's survey. Once aboard we headed for the crew mess for a welcome cup of coffee before commencing our survey. On the bridge we met Captain Russell Smith just prior to departure and set ourselves up for the survey.

Kittiwake Adrian Shephard 04a
Kittiwake (Adrian Shephard)

Seabird numbers were high throughout the crossing, particularly Great Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake and Gannet - a fishing vessel proving a big draw for them.

A fleeting glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise was soon followed by two more which were so close to the ship that they appeared to bow ride! A dark-phase Arctic Skua was seen on the water with Dunkirk harbour in sight.

After a brief turn around, we were back on the bridge, but the sun was already heading towards the horizon. Vast numbers of gulls (over 600) were seen against the setting sun, including Great Black-backed and Herring Gull; some crossing the bow.

bottlenose dolphin Adrian Shephard 04a
Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Adrian Shephard)

With the light fading, a splash ahead of the ship alerted us to something. Peering through the binoculars into the darkening scene, we observed two Bottlenose Dolphin performing acrobatics before they headed to each side of the bow.

By 4.15pm, it was dark, so we thanked the bridge team and headed down to grab a coffee and tally up the sightings.

Our thanks to the captain and crew of Dunkerque Seaways and DFDS for their on-going support.