MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS ‘Dunkerque Seaways’ Dover-Dunkirk 6 June 2018


Stephen Hedley; Research Surveyor for Research surveyors for MARINElife (registered charity no.: 1110884, reg. company no.: 5057367)

Weather: Outward - Wind NE, cloudy, sea state 3. Return - Wind NNE, cloudy, sea state 1

Summary of sightings:

Gannet  Morus bassanus 26
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 45
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 180
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 7
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 8
Gull sp. 301
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 9
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 6
Tern sp. 22

The weather was overcast, and the visibility was reasonable, as was the sea state, at the start of the survey. The survey began with a flock of approximately 80 Herring Gull at the entrance to the harbour. These birds were soon left behind as the ship progressed out to sea. From then on there were mainly individual Gannet, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull seen. An area of litter was seen mid-Channel, including plastic items. In addition sporadic cuttlefish bones were also spotted, presumably from adults that had recently died, perhaps following spawning.

Fulmar Peter Howlett 12
Fulmar (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Around an hour into the crossing the only Fulmar of the day was seen crossing the bow of the ship. Closer to the French coast, Great Black-backed Gull and Tern species were seen; including Common and Sandwich Tern. A large congregation of Cormorant lined the walls as we entered Dunkirk Harbour.

In port the ship gave a good view of nesting Lesser Black-backed Gull, with over 30 seen, plus a few nesting Herring Gull on their periphery. Both Jackaw and Black-headed Gull were spotted nearby.

Cormorant Peter Howlett 06
Cormorant (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The return journey began with a similar pattern of observations; Cormorant, Tern and Gull species closer to Dunkirk. Further out to sea were some Gannet; including 2 that were sitting on a wooden pallet. The survey ended in sunlight on entering Dover Harbour. Just prior to this a very large flock of Gulls and Terns were spotted off the starboard side near the white cliffs flying and feeding in a great commotion. Unfortunately it was not possible to see whether there were any accompanying marine mammals present.

I would like to express very warm thanks to Captain Andy Ridout and crew for looking after me during the survey.