MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Delft Seaways’ Dover-Dunkirk 19 March 2016

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

Weather: Outbound: Sea state 4-5. NE winds. Cloudy. Return: Sea state 3-4. Winds NNE. Cloudy.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 32

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 33
Black-throated Diver Diver Gavia arctica 1
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 8
Gannet Morus bassanus 32
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 46
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 15
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Common Gull Larus canus 20
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 68
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 72
Razorbill Alca torda 22
Unidentified auk sp. 2
Unidentified Larus Gull sp. 14
Unidentified Diver sp. 2

With overcast conditions coupled with light winds, we were hopeful of a productive crossing. This was Tibor's first survey for MARINElife, so after a briefing and a bite to eat, we headed up to meet the bridge team and commence our survey.

Fulmar Adrian Shephard 05
Fulmar (Adrian Shephard)

Seabird numbers were down on last month, presumably due to their migration season having started. Initially we recorded just a handful of Kittiwake and Guillemot before a fleeting glimpse of the first of many Harbour Porpoise for the crossing.

As the survey progressed, other species of seabird were added to our list including a few Little Gull with the distinctive dark underwings showing nicely. We also recorded a couple of Fulmar gliding across the sea's surface.

With the French coast approaching, we entered an area with increased numbers of Harbour Porpoise, with several in quick succession followed by a few Red-throated Diver and a few groups of Common Scoter.

LBB Gull Adrian Shephard 02
Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Adrian Shephard)

After a short turnaround, we headed out of Dunkirk for the return crossing. The area with Harbour Porpoise was quiet on the return but we did see a few Razorbill. As we headed further out, we picked up some groups of Lesser Black-backed Gull heading east and, with Dover in sight, we once again had a flurry of Harbour Porpoise encounters.

Passing Cote des Flanders as she headed out of Dover, we pulled alongside our berth and thanked the bridge team for another interesting crossing of the Dover straits.

Cotes des Flanders Adrian Shephard 01
Cotes des Flanders (Adrian Shephard)