Sightings Archives: October 2019

MARINElife blog: Seatruck Ferries ‘Seatruck Precision’ and 'Clipper Performance' Heysham-Warrenpoint 3-4 October 2019

Posted 13 October 2019

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Conditions: Outbound: Overcast. Sea State 3-7 Wind SE Force 5-9; Inbound: Overcast. Sea State 2-3 Wind E Force 2-4

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 5

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 24
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 66
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 360
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 13
Common Gull Larus canus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 72
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 7
Guillemot Uria aalge 91
Razorbill Alca torda 50
Duck sp. 10
Larus sp. 29
Auk sp. 23

Great Skua Peter Howlett 13This was going to be an interesting trip as ex-hurricane Lorenzo was due to hit Ireland on the 3rd October and cross to the mainland of the UK on the 4th as we were expected to return. This storm had already broken records by reaching category 5 status and was the furthest north and east a hurricane of this size had ever been recorded. By the time it hit Ireland it had been downgraded to just a storm but was still expected to cause some issues.

As things turned out, it was not that bad in the Irish Sea. On the trip over the sea state reached state 7, making it tricky to spot anything in the water. However, on the return trip the conditions were much better, being sea state 2 most of the time. Maybe we were in the eye of the hurricane the whole time?

Due to the conditions on the way over there was not anything seen cetacean wise. There was one possible Harbour Porpoise that I was 90% sure of but this was not recorded as I was not completely sure. On the return with better conditions three Harbour Porpoise were spotted as well as a couple of Grey Seal as we left Warrenpoint.

Shag Rob Petley-Jones 01There were not large numbers of birds either. However, the five Great Skua seen shattering my theory that there was only one Great Skua in the Irish Sea! Maybe the storm had blown them off course, and they would only briefly be there thus not disproving my theory….

The most numerous bird species was Shag, due mainly to the 300 standing on an island just outside Warrenpoint!

I would like to thank the captains and the crews of the Seatruck Precision and Performance for looking after me.

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Great Skua Photo: Peter Howlett
Shag Photo: Rob Petley-Jones