Sightings Archives: February 2016

MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Delft Seaways’ Dover-Dunkirk 13 February 2016

Posted 15 February 2016

Adrian Shephard and Thomas Fisher, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Outbound: E winds, sea state 5-6 E winds, cloudy with rain.
Return: E winds, sea state 4-6, cloudy with mist.

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 13
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3

Greylag Geese Anser anser 42
Black-throated Diver Diver Gavia arctica 1
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 238
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 86
Guillemot Uria aalge 137
Razorbill Alca torda 23
Unidentified auk sp. 15
Unidentified Larus Gull sp. 4

Once we had departed, we headed to the bridge of the Delft Seaways to commence our survey. The outlook was a little gloomy with a sea state of 6 but, with the wipers on, we had relatively good vision ahead despite the rain.

Thomas Fisher surveying Adrian Shephard 01
Thomas Fisher surveying (Adrian Shephard)

The flurry of gulls in the harbour were soon left behind, but seabirds remained fairly constant throughout the crossing with Guillemot, Gannet and Kittiwake predominating.

Our first marine mammal came about 15 minutes into the crossing with a Harbour Porpoise sighted ahead of the ship, this was shortly followed by a pair of Grey Seal which looked at the ship as we moved passed them before diving.

Harbour Porpoise Thomas Fisher 01
Harbour Porpoise (Thomas Fisher)

Seabird diversity increased with a sighting of a Fulmar riding the waves followed by a Great Skua flying powerfully across the bow. More Harbour Porpoise were sighted as we headed fully into the English Channel and another Grey Seal as we neared the French coast.

After a brief stop in Dunkirk, we headed back out into the Channel and, although the rain had now stopped, the overcast conditions and mist continued to make more distant sightings difficult to pin down. We did manage a further seven Harbour Porpoise sightings on the return and further species of bird including a couple of Great Crested Grebe not far outside Dunkirk harbour.

Great Crested Grebe Thomas Fisher 01
Great Crested Grebe (Thomas Fisher)

A frenzy of feeding Gannet, Kittiwake and Guillemot indicated that some marine mammals could be present but we did not see them.

With darkness almost upon us, we headed into Dover harbour where we thanked the bridge crew of the Delft Seaways for making us feel so welcome.