MARINElife Survey Report: Ilfracombe-Lundy 'MS Oldenburg' 18th May 2013

Rick Morris and Maggie Gamble; Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Sunny; Wind: west/north west; Sea State: 3/4

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1 - (Casual sighting from crew member)

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 22 (3 birds dead)
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 136
Storm Petrel  Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 15
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 12
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 29
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 63 (4 birds dead)
Razorbill Alca torda 25
Large gull sp. 2
Auk sp. 15

Note - The 3 dead Fulmar and 4 dead Guillemots were seen in very close proximity

Oldenburg Rick Morris 02aWe received our usual warm welcome aboard the Oldenburg in glorious sunshine to commence this month's survey to Lundy Island and sailed promptly at 10am.

Our first sighting of note was, unfortunately, an area of flotsam containing a few dead Fulmar and Guillemot. We assumed that they had fallen victim to the PIB discharges which seem to be affecting this area of coast. Hopefully The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will be able to determine the source of this substance soon. Thankfully we were soon recording numbers of healthy Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet, Shag, Fulmar and the ever graceful Manx Shearwater. A single diminutive Storm Petrel was briefly sighted. A surprising number of Guillemots were still in partial winter plumage. The keen eyed bridge crew spotted the only cetacean seen of this survey, which was a single Harbour Porpoise as we neared Lundy Island.

PipitArriving at Lundy we took the lower path along the granite cliff which gives marvellous views of the eastern side of the Island. Stopping at Jenny's Cove for lunch we were delighted to see the small Puffin breeding colony that has reappeared there since the Island was declared rat free in 2006.  Manx shearwater, which also rears its chicks in cliff-top burrows, has shown remarkable breeding success on Lundy since then.

After a welcome cup of tea at the Marisco Tavern we returned to the Oldenburg for the second leg of the Survey. A less welcome sighting on the return leg was a floating hydrogen balloon which are still being released to litter our seas. Amongst the seabirds and passing Swallows a dark phase adult Pomarine Skua was an unexpected bonus as we approached the headland.

The Oldenburg is a wonderful vessel for surveying, a big thank you to all for allowing us aboard.

Rick Morris and Maggie Gamble; Research Surveyors for MARINElife