MARINElife blog: Seatruck Ferries ‘Seatruck Precision’ and 'Clipper Performance' Heysham-Warrenpoint 5-6 March 2020

Robin Langdon, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather Outbound: Overcast; wind N force 2-3; Sea state 1-2; Return: Overcast; wind SW force 2-3; Sea state 1-2

Summary of Sightings

Cetaceans and Seals:
Common Dolphin (Short-beaked) Delphinus delphis 10
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 12
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1
Unidentified seal sp. 3

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet Morus bassanus 6
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 122
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 4
Common Gull Larus canus 109
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 103
Guillemot Uria aalge 120
Razorbill Alca torda 19
Larus sp. 562
Auk sp. 27

Terrestrial Birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 6

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 12Well, this was an unusual trip. The sea state did not get above 2 for the two days, while on the first day a good portion of the time was at sea state 1.

Even though the conditions were good it took a while before the first cetacean to appear, but two hours into the crossing the first Harbour Porpoise was spotted. A total of twelve were spotted on the whole trip, most of these on the outward leg.

It was a couple more hours before the next cetacean sighting, when a pod of Common Dolphin was spotted some way out from the ship. These animals seemed to be having a great time jumping and splashing, before heading into the ship for a quick bow ride. You see a lot of this behaviour with dolphins in the Celtic Sea and the Bay of Biscay, but this is the first time I have seen this in the Irish Sea.

On the return trip on the Performer one of the ship's officers showed me a video he had taken (on the same day I saw mine from the Precision) of a pod of dolphins coming into bow ride, and we assume it must have been the same pod of animals, as at that time the ships were not far apart.

Fulmar Rob Petley-Jones 04There were not large number of birds seen, with many of these sitting on the water, and this may have been due to the lack of wind. The Fulmar petrels that normally glide effortlessly over the waves were having to work hard to keep in the air!

On the return trip there were large numbers of gulls around three boats that were all fishing in the same area.

I would like to thank the captains and crews or the Precision and the Performer for looking after me.

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

Common Dolphin Photo: Peter Howlett
Fulmar Photo: Rob Petley-Jones