Sightings Archives: August 2015

MARINElife Survey Report: Heysham-Dublin 'Clipper Pace' 18th August 2015

Posted 03 September 2015

Stephen Dunstan, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Conditions:  Wind SW 3-4; Sea State 3; Visibility clear

Summary of sightings

Cetaceans and mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Risso's Dolphin  Grampus griseus 2
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 16   
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 214
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2119
Gannet Morus bassanus 116
Cormorant Phalacorcorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aritotelis 11
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 83
Great Black-Backed Gull Larus marinus 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus graellsii 9
Large gull sp 64
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 748
Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis 7
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 178
Commic Tern Sterna/paradisaea 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 1148
Razorbill Alca torda 105
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Auk Sp. 207

I arrived at Heysham port just before midnight and was quickly onboard the Clipper Pace where I retreated to my cabin to get some sleep before daylight and the commencement of the survey.  

Great Skua Peter Howlett 05Joining the bridge at 06.00 I was pleased to see that the forecast relatively calm conditions had materialized.  Over the next couple of hours heading south of the Isle of Man towards Ireland there were good number of seabirds, particularly Manx Shearwater and auks (predominantly Guillemot).  

Three Great Skua and a couple of Puffin were a welcome addition to the tally and as we neared Dublin four pods of Common Dolphin totalling a minimum of 11 individuals were seen.

The return leg was in similarly fine conditions, and more cetaceans were seen.  A couple of small Common Dolphin were noted and one group of Harbour Porpoise passed the bridge heading north, while a Grey Seal was seen resting well out to sea.   

Rissos Dolphin Adrian Shephard 01The undoubted highlight of the survey however was seeing Risso's Dolphin on this route again, where at least a couple of animals were involved.  These were not that close to the ship and there may have been more than two.  

Lots more seabirds were recorded before these sightings dwindled away towards dusk, when a fabulous sunset marked the end of another successful survey on this new route.

Stephen Dunstan, Research Surveyor for MARINElife