Maggie Gamble and John Perry, MARINElife Research
Weather: NW; 1 - 3; Calm Seas
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 4
Unidentified Dolphin Species ~4
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 10
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 213
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 30
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 4366
Gannet Morus bassanus 236
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 290
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 15
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 12
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 3
Large Skua sp. 1
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 25
Common Gull Larus canus 72
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 51
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 49
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 42
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 128
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 18
Large Gull Sp. 88
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Black Guillemot Cepphus grille 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 368
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Auk sp. 8
This first Marinelife survey from the Seatruck Ferry Route from Heysham to Warrenpoint on board the Clipper Point was a great start to this new research route for us. Conditions were good with light winds, North-West 1-3 and calm seas.
The outbound route passed very close to the Isle of Man and we had time to admire this beautiful Island and heather clad fells. Then suddenly we were busy recording large rafts of the aptly named Manx Shearwaters and many Guillemots. Manx Shearwaters are long lived birds that nest on our offshore islands and are known to forage as far as the Bay of Biscay to obtain food for their young.
Recording various seabirds kept us busy until Carlingford Loch and Adjacent Mountains of Mourne came into view. There were plenty of Grey Seals on the rocks as we made our way into the loch and Seatruck Staff at Warrenpoint tell us they sometimes see Otters feeding as the ships come in. After an overnight stop it was time for the return leg of the survey on board the Clipper Panorama.
The now almost mirror calm conditions were perfect for spotting the diminutive and shy Harbour porpoise and we were lucky enough to see several of these elusive cetaceans. Approaching the Isle of Man some diving Gannets alerted us to the splashes of feeding dolphins underneath them! A little too distant to positively identify but Bottlenose Dolphins are reputed to be resident in the area. A little while later we had perfect views of four Bottlenose Dolphins cruising along on the surface - excellent!
So a great new route and a chance to record the important feeding areas for the Marinelife of the area. Our thanks go to the Captains, crews and staff of Seatruck Ferries for making us welcome on this new data gathering opportunity and for a truly excellent lunch!
Maggie Gamble and John Perry, Research Surveyors for MARINElife