Sightings Archives: March 2020

MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS ‘Sealandia’ Felixstowe to Vlaardingen survey 3rd March 2020

Posted 15 March 2020

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Outbound - Wind west/south-west force 6, sea state 3
Return - Wind west/south-west force 6, sea state 3-4

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 130
Common Gull Larus canus 21
Gannet Morus bassanus 89
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 10
Gull sp. Laridae 1004
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 211
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 35
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 32
Razorbill Alca torda 3

River and Terrestrial Birds

Carrion Crow Corvus corone 5
Coot Fulica atra 42
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 38
Duck sp. 136
Gadwall Anas strepera 136
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 3
Greylag Goose Anser anser 48
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Scoter Sp. Melanitta sp. 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 8
Wigeon Anas penelope 51


This should have been the first trip for Joshua; however, sadly, he left his passport in Bristol so was unable to make the trip. Luckily he realised this before boarding.

It will have been said before, but this is always a bit of a strange trip. Surveyors board the ship in the early hours of the morning, often in the dark, and head east straight into the sun. This makes things tricky for surveyors as when you start your survey on the bridge the sun is up and in your face. The ship reaches Vlaardingen about 10am and then waits until the sun has moved to the west before starting its return journey, which means the sun is in surveyors' faces once again. This makes surveying sometimes tricky, and never more so on this trip.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 16
Harbour Porpoise (Peter Howlett, 2018)

Throughout the entire trip, and likely as a result of the sun's glaring rays, only 2 porpoise were spotted and these were behind the ship feeding with some birds. In terms of bird, the usual range of birds were spotted with plenty of Gannets and Gadwalls. The return saw very few gulls until we came across 3 fishing ships, one had an estimated 500 Gulls and Gannets swarming around it. So presumably this is where they all where.

Aside from surveying, I took some time out to chat to the Captain, who talked about how once a month they drag an item behind the ship which collects plankton. The plankton are then analysed to find out how many and what types there are.

Thanks to the Captain and crew of the Sealandia for enabling the survey to go ahead and looking after me.