Sightings Archives: August 2018

MARINElife blog: Seatruck Ferries ‘Clipper Panorama’ & ‘Clipper Pennant’ Heysham-Warrenpoint 9-10 August 2018

Posted 19 August 2018

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Conditions: Westbound - Sunny; Sea State 3-4; Wind W Force 4-5  Eastbound - Sunny; Sea State 3-4; Wind W Force 4-5

Summary of sightings
Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 5
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 5
Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina 22
Unidentified dolphin species 5
Unidentified whale species 1
Unidentified seal species 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 93
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 413
Gannet Morus bassanus 225
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 113
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 30
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 15
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 136
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 19
Guillemot Uria aalge 203
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Gull species 553
Tern species 27

This was a survey of probabilities, with several sightings that just could not be positively confirmed.  Wildlife rarely can be relied on to show itself clearly and can always make life difficult, even for the experienced observer!

First off, I spotted something in the water not long after leaving Heysham and although I saw it three times there was never a clear view.  Although seals occur in these waters it was probably a Harbour Porpoise.  Later in the day I saw several dorsal fins just breaking the surface, with animals below presumably feeding.   However, they did not show themselves but were probably dolphins.

Difficult observing conditions continued early into the return journey with a probable Harbour Porpoise heading into the forward glare, after which further observation was not possible.

Minke Peter Howlett 09

Minke Whale (Peter Howlett)

Further out into the Irish Sea I had a single glimpse of what was probably the dorsal fin of a Minke Whale, but it was not seen again.

Thankfully were some definite sightings on the survey, when a small pod of Common Dolphin came into the ship for a quick bow ride.  There was also a group of three Harbour Porpoise, one being a juvenile.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 02

Fulmar (Rob Petley-Jones)

No unusual bird species were seen on the survey.  There were a few fishing vessels with large number of gulls and Gannet in attendance, and a good number of Fulmar were seen.  Manx Shearwater seemed to be playing a game with the ship, as each time I counted them and wrote down the number a couple more would appear forcing me to correct my count!  I am sure they got plenty of amusement out of this.

Manx Shearwater Rob Petley-Jones 03

Manx Shearwaters (Rob Petley-Jones)

I would like to thank the captain and the crew of both the Panorama and the Pennant for making me welcome and keeping me fed and watered.

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyor for MARINElife