Tibor Beetles and Nuala Campbell, Research
Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather Outbound: Dry, good visibility (16-20 km), WSW wind force 6-7, sea state 2-3, starboard glare. Return: Intermittent light rain, poor visibility at times (1-5 km), WSW wind force 7-9, sea state 3-4, no glare
Summary of Sightings:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 15
Auk sp. Alcidae 87
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Diver sp. Gaviidae 6
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 114
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 59
Gull sp. Laridae 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 42
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Skua sp. Stercorariidae 4
This was my maiden voyage as a MARINElife surveyor. I had all the luck with me. Not only was the Team Leader, Tibor Beetles, my original workshop trainer, but the sea was calm and the visibility clear. Suddenly all those Shipping Forecasts made much more sense to me.
We arrived at our designated ship, Dunkerque Seaways, in time to be escorted to the crew mess. Lunch was an excellent smorgasbord. This was a day-return trip, to Dunkirk from Dover and back.
Gannet (Rob Petley-Jones)
Welcomed onto the Bridge once the crew had manoeuvred past the Dover breakwater, we quickly set up our station, and Tibor ran through the procedure and paperwork for me, showing me where to access the instruments to establish Latitude/Longitude and wind speed.
We spotted and plotted Gannet, Guillemot, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Kittiwake, Cormorant and even Skua all within the Bird Box. Some intermittent light rain and reduced visibility did make sightings a little more challenging on the return, but we still identified Great Skua and Auk and Diver species along with a large group of diving Gannet.
Harbour Porpoise (Peter Howlett)
Tibor also pointed out a Great Skua committing 'seaway robbery' on a Gannet's Catch-of-the-Day. I was thrilled to 'spot' my first Harbour Porpoise, and we were very pleased to have logged 15 individuals during our trip, along with two Grey Seal mid-Channel.
The Bridge Crew though busy, were friendly and the Captain greeted us in person. The crew shared some of their own sightings of dolphins with us, and even a sighting of a large whale near Dover quite recently. This was a wonderful and fruitful introduction to my first voyage as a volunteer surveyor and all thanks are due to DFDS for enabling these valuable recordings of marine sea-life.