Sightings Archives: May 2019

MARINElife blog: Seatruck ‘Clipper Panorama’ Heysham-Dublin 14 May 2019

Posted 31 May 2019

Jane and Rob Petley-Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather Conditions:
Outbound: Wind: S 1-2; Sea State: 3; Swell: 0; Visibility: clear
Return: Wind: Variable 1-0; Sea State: 2-0; Swell: 0; Visibility: some distant smog

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata2
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 38
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 17
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 24
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 434
Gannet Morus bassanus 411
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 11
Shag Phalacrocorax aritotelis 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Common Gull Larus canus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 49
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 6
Great Black-Backed Gull Larus marinus 7
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 457
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 6
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 102
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 866
Razorbill Alca torda 36
Larus sp. 10
Mixed gull sp. 25
Tern sp. 1
Auk sp. 25

Terrestrial Birds:
House Martin Delichon urbicum 1

Birds in Dublin Port
Knot Calidris canutus 90
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 8

We boarded the Clipper Panorama on the night of the 13th ready for a 6 am start to our survey the following day.  By this time, we were halfway through the voyage across the Irish Sea to Dublin, with Anglesey visible in the distance to the south.  The calm sea and light winds gave us excellent viewing conditions and we soon began to see Guillimot, Kittiwake, and Manx Shearwater.

Despite these good conditions, mammal sightings were few with a brief view of three Common Dolphin and a couple of spy-hopping Grey Seal, one of which was being bothered by gulls.

Black Guillemot Adrian Shephard 02After we arrived in Dublin, we enjoyed a very welcome late breakfast, and were then entertained by several pairs of Black Guillemot in the dock, squabbling and splashing about with their big red feet!

The return voyage began at around 1.30 with the sun well to starboard and the wind speed dropping even further, giving us some really excellent viewing conditions. We soon encountered large numbers of resting and feeding Gannet, and rafts of becalmed Manx Shearwater.

Common Dolphin Sharon Morris 03We were not surprised to see several groups of Harbour Porpoise travelling gently along and were delighted when a large pod of Common Dolphin came leaping in towards the bow of the ship.  The first party of eight were joined by more groups, all making their way to the wake of the ship to leap over the waves.  We counted at least 35 animals and watched them playing for several minutes.

Minke Adrian Shephard 04While all this was happening, we were suddenly amazed by the sight of two Minke Whale surfacing quite close to the ship!  Although there are occasional sightings of Minke in the Irish Sea, to see two at once is remarkable.

Bird sightings continued steadily and built up to good total numbers, including good views of Puffin and Razorbill.

Overall, we had an excellent survey, and would like to thank Captain Jaak Karm and the crew of the Clipper Panorama for their hospitality, and Seatruck for their continuing support of MARINElife.

Black Guillemot (Adrian Shephard)
Short-beaked Common Dolphin (Sharon Morris)
Minke Whale (Adrian Shephard)