MARINElife Survey Report: ‘MS Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 4 June 2016

Rick Morris and Ruth Crundwell, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Out: overcast with reduced visibility, wind easterly 1-2
Return: cloudy with sunny spells, good visibility, wind easterly 1-2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 19
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 60
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 38
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 9
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 20
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 7
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Puffin Fratercula arctica 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 137
Razorbill Alca torda 66
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Gull sp. 1
Auk sp. 6

We arrived in Ilfracombe on a warm misty Saturday morning, meeting Annette the WLO for this trip outside the shore office. Boarding the MS Oldenburg we made our way to the bridge and were greeted by Jason the Captain. We also met Beccy Macdonald, Lundy's resident warden who had been staying on the 'mainland' for a few days.

We left around 10 am, heading out into a near flat sea with a light sea mist. Just as we were leaving the harbour before the survey had officially started, Harbour Porpoise were seen around the headland much to the delight of those on board and on shore. After that hopes of sighting more cetaceans were high.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 04
Common Dolphin (Rick Morris)

The flat calm sea made it easy to see even single birds just loafing on the water. Beccy helped out with sightings too and we observed a good number of seabirds including Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet throughout the outward journey. A Grey Seal was sighted at 10.35 near Bull Point, then the welcome sight of a fin belonging to a Harbour Porpoise at 11.05. This was closely followed by sightings of more Harbour Porpoise and also Common Dolphin - at times on both sides of the ship which kept us busy until we landed on Lundy. A surprise sighting of 4 Storm Petrels two of which were together also added to the excitement and were the bird highlight of the day.

Moon jellyfish could be seen in the harbour near the jetty as we made our way up the hill to walk to Jenny's Cove, where we had our lunch watching puffins and other auks on their cliff nesting spots.

The return journey was equally as busy with sightings of Harbour Porpoise, Common Dolphin as well as a variety of auk species, Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, Gannet and gulls.

Common Dolphin Rick Morris 05
Common Dolphin (Rick Morris)

After arriving back in Ilfracombe we said our thanks to the crew of MS Oldenburg particularly Jason and Vernon who had looked after us so well and set off for a fish supper at the Lynbay chippy and to reflect on a fantastic survey.

Our thanks to the Oldenburg's crew, shore staff, and all on Lundy for all the help and support.