MARINElife blog: Seatruck Ferries ‘Clipper Pennant’ & ‘Clipper Point’ Heysham-Warrenpoint 15-16 June 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright and Karrie Langdon, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Outward: sea state 4 - 3, dry, becoming cloudy with rain
Return: sea state 1 - 3, cloudy but dry

Summary of sightings:

Marine mammals:
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 6
Common or Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 12
Seal sp. 1
Cetacean sp. 1

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 22
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 2
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 773
Gannet Morus bassanus 231
Cormorant Phalacrocorax 38
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 61
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 13
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 27
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 44
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 20
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 11
Guillemot Uria aalge 122
Razorbill Alca torda 8
Gull sp. 10
Tern sp. 10

Terrestrial birds at sea:
Canada Goose Branta Canadensis 4

Other marine animals:
Jellyfish swarm 1

Leaving Heysham harbour, the weather was set fair, sea conditions were good and some cocklers were scattered along the beach, busy with buckets and rakes.  A wonderful start to a survey and great conditions for Carol to test out her new camera lens.

Common Dolphin Carol Farmer Wright 04Just into the survey there were many Gannet plunging into the sea in a feeding frenzy and a Bottlenose Dolphin was briefly spotted making the most of the opportunity.  The real test of Carol's new lens came later, in the form of a chorus line of Common Dolphin racing into the ship showing off their best sides.

At Warrenpoint the treat was to watch the Common Seal pups asleep on the rocky islands with a single matriarch on duty, while the rest of the group were out foraging. The adult seals were spotted in the shipping channel further out at sea.

Common Gull Rob Petley-Jones 01There were the normal plethora of seabirds including Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, Black Guillemot and Common Gull.  The Manx Shearwater and Guillemot took advantage of the calm conditions, creating large bird rafts.  A Great Skua skimmed closed to the surface of the sea but failed to skulk past unnoticed.

There were plenty of busy Sandwich Tern passing the boat going out to fish and some returning with fish in their beaks.

The sightings throughout the voyage kept the surveyors busy, and the crew kept the team supplied with sandwiches and fruit juices to keep the concentration levels up.  Thanks to Captain Orbison and Captain Broughton for all their support and for making this such an enjoyable survey.

Common Dolphin (Carol Farmer-Wright)
Common Gull (Rob Petley-Jones)