Sightings Archives: May 2017

MARINElife Report: DFDS ‘Dunkerque Seaways’ Dover to Dunkirk 6 May 2017

Posted 12 May 2017

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

Weather:  NE/NNE winds, sea state 4-5, low visibility due to mist and light glare throughout

Summary of Species Recorded

Marine mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 3

Gannet Morus bassanus 24
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 24
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 15
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 1
Unidentified Gull sp. 64
Unidentified Tern sp. 10
Unidentified Auk sp. 5

Terrestrial Birds
Swallow Hirundo rustica 2
Swift Apus apus 1
Unidentified Wader sp. 4

We were met with the usual friendly efficiency and booked onboard to enjoy a brief lunch with some particularly good cheese in the crew mess as the Dunkerque Seaways made its final preparations to leave harbour. We began the survey immediately on leaving Dover in slightly overcast conditions with a moderate sea state and reduced visibility due to a constant mist.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 09
Kittiwake (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

A single Kittiwake was the first sighting giving way to a range of gulls, particularly several immature Herring Gull. These were followed by several Gannet, singly and in small groups of a range of ages, notably groups of immatures on the water. More Kittiwake appeared and in mid-Channel a couple of Swallow. Crew members mentioned seeing Cormorant earlier in the day and they duly arrived shortly before the French coast.

A Harbour Porpoise surfaced in the bow wave as we prepared to enter Dunkirk, swimming off to starboard as the Seaways passed the first harbour wall with a small group of tern crossing the bow.

A brief turnaround in Dunkirk and the return journey began with a mass of gulls and another passage of terns. Further into the Channel numerous individual Kittiwake appeared and a single Guillemot was spotted on the water along with numerous airborne waders and a single Swift.

Harbour Porpoise Rick Morris 01a
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

Nearing Dover, a pair of Harbour Porpoise swam into the bow wave and kept pace with the boat lingering a while on the starboard side. This gave an excellent view of the smaller of the two in the final stages of the survey.

Thanks as ever to Captain Jason Mills and the rest of the DFDS crew and staff for all their help in making these surveys possible.