MARINElife Blog: P&O Ferries (Pride of Bruges) Hull to Zeebrugge (21 – 23 April 2018)

Alan Sumnall and Nicola Simpson, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: The weather was mostly bright with favourable sea conditions. This did produce some glare at times due to the wonderful rising and setting sun.

Summary of Sightings:
Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) 2

Seabirds
Gannet (Morus bassanus) 8
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) 1
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 77
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) 209
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) 8
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 44
Guillemot (Uria aalge) 1
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) 1
Greylag Goose (Anser anser) 2
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) 11
Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra) 12

We departed Hull on time with sufficient daylight left to get up onto the Bridge and start our survey. The view from the Bridge was fantastic so it was a great opportunity to take some photos. We were warmly welcomed by the crew and our Captain, Arie Kanneworff. We couldn't have asked for a better start with a Harbour Porpoise spotted before we had left the mouth of the Humber. We also saw Shelduck, Grelag Geese and large numbers of Great Black-backed Gull. After this exciting start and with the daylight disappearing into a lovely sunset behind us, we retired from the Bridge to an excellent evening buffet meal very kindly provided by P&O Ferries. After dinner it was time for an early night ready to commence our survey the next morning.

Pride of Bruges Survey Alan Sumnall

Pride of Bruges (Alan Sumnall)

Our alarms woke us, and we were back up on the Bridge just before first light. We were greeted with friendly and helpful smiles from the crew who provided coffee, a fantastic sunrise and near perfect surveying conditions. We spotted a Harbour Porpoise although it was outside of the surveying area. There were also numerous birds including Great Skua, Gannet, Common Scoter and Common Tern.

We arrived into Zeebrugge on time with glorious weather and caught the bus into Bruges which was kindly provided by P&O Ferries. A fantastic day was spent exploring the wonderful architecture, soaking up some sun in the parks and enjoying the lovely local food (and chocolate!).

Great Skua Peter Howlett 09

Great Skua (Peter Howlett)

Upon our return, we quickly had our evening buffet and then returned to the Bridge once we had safely left port. We recorded another Harbour Porpoise and were treated to large flocks of Black-headed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull.

Another early start and up onto the Bridge for our return to Hull. We did not record any cetaceans, but there was once again large flocks of Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Cormorant. We arrived into Hull promptly and so it was time to leave the Bridge, saying goodbye to the very friendly and accommodating crew. Our thanks go out to Captain Kanneworff and the crew of the Pride of Bruges for a wonderful trip.

Alan Sumnall and Nicola Simpson, Research Surveyors for MARINElife