Sightings Archives: July 2019

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Belfast 'Stena Hibernia & Scotia' 25th - 26th July 2019

Posted 03 August 2019

Robin Langdon; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)
Weather: Outbound: Sunny. Sea State 2-4 Wind SE; Homeward: Cloudy. Sea State 2-5 Wind SE

Summary of Sightings

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Unidentified dolphin sp. 4
Unidentified seal sp. 1

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1101
Gannet Morus bassanus 276
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 40
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 35
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 369
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 16
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 78
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Tern sp. 18
Larus sp. 29
Auk sp. 16

Titanic Museum Belfast Robin LangdonThe hottest day on record was predicted for the day we departed so heading out into the Irish Sea seemed like a good move. At the time of going to press this indeed was the hottest day with a temperature of 38.7 degrees C in Cambridgeshire, but it was a bit cooler out in the Irish Sea.

The conditions were reasonable for most of the crossing, but the sea state did rise as we neared Belfast.

Not many marine mammals were seen, though there was a small pod of feeding dolphins on the outward journey, their dorsal fins just breaking the surface so not possible to identify them. The only other mammals were a couple of seals on the return journey - these only seem to appear when Captain Fitzgerald appear on the bridge!

There was a bit of confusion when we reached Belfast as the ship is now docking in a different quay. This meant we passed some of the interesting sights in the port, and we docked across from the Titanic museum. Captain Fitzgerald explaining to me that each of the wings of the building are the same height as the Titanic when it was berthed.

Manx Sheawater Robin LangdonMost of the previous week a small pod of dolphin had been seen just outside Heysham port, playing in the rip tide around one of the buoys, but alas they were no longer around when I was surveying.

As expected, there was a reasonable number of Manx Shearwater recorded on the survey, with large groups seen as we arrived and left Belfast Lough, along with Gannet and Kittiwake that were feeding just at the entrance to the lough.

I would like to thank the Captains and crews of the Scotia and Hibernia for looking after me, and also to Jury's Inn in Belfast for the room for the night.

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

Titanic Museum, Belfast Photo: Robin Langdon
Manx Shearwater Photo: Robin Langdon