MARINElife Survey Report: MS Oldenburg Ilfracombe-Lundy 1st October 2016

Ruth Crundwell and Annette Dutton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outward - overcast, light rain at first, moderate visibility: Westerly wind 4-5. Sea state 4-6.  Return - brighter, good visibility: Westerly wind changing to Easterly 4-5. Sea state 5

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 12
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Juvenile gull Sp. 2
Auk Sp. 16

Annette and I met outside the Lundy Island Company booking office and greeted Alan Altoft, the Marinelife Wildlife Officer and Marinelife's Rick Morris who was undertaking the trip with his family. We were welcomed aboard the 'MS Oldenburg' by captain Jason and the crew and made our way to the bridge.

This was Annette's first survey (she also volunteers as a Wildlife Officer on this route) and as it was the final survey for the season, so hopes were high that we would get good sightings of cetaceans and seabirds that we knew were in the area.

Leaving at 10.00, we left the shelter of the harbour, but the conditions soon became challenging as we headed toward Lundy, so no cetaceans were seen, we did manage some sightings of seabirds including Gannet and Auk species, Rick also reported seeing a Storm Petrel on the outward journey.

Gannet Rick Morris 07
Gannet (Archive photo: Rick Morris)

We spent our 3 hours on Lundy enjoying watching the sea on the west coast from the comfort of the Old Light sun room before visiting St Helens church.

On the way back to the landing stage we met members of the Lundy Field Society who had been on the island for a week undertaking various surveys and activities.

Kittiwake juv Mike Bailey 04
Juvenile Kittiwake (Archive photo: Mike Bailey)

The return journey was smoother and speedier than the outward one, this gave a brief glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise and a number of seabirds including Gannet, Kittiwake (including a juvenile) and juvenile Guillemot with adults on the water. Rick observed 50-60 Gannets feeding with possibly porpoises in attendance just as we left Lundy and also reported seeing a Great Skua and juvenile Kittiwake on the homeward journey.

Many thanks to the crew of the Oldenburg, especially Vernon who looked after Annette and I so well during the outward journey when we found conditions challenging.

Ruth Crundwell and Annette Dutton, Research Surveyors for MARINElife