MARINElife Survey Report: Lundy Ferry ‘Oldenburg’ Ilfracombe-Lundy 31 March 2018

Maggie Gamble and Mary wood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Westbound: Cloudy, wind NNW 5, sea state 4-5, with some swell
Eastbound: Cloudy, wind NNW 4, sea state 4-3.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 7
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 5
Guillemot Uria aalge 25
Razorbill  Alca torda 30
Larus sp. 3
Auk sp. 26

The drive down to Ilfracombe was in heavy rain with the remains of fresh snow on the southern edge of Exmoor and later on in the journey the river was in spate. We left Ilfracombe prompt at 10am and as we made our way along the headland we looked hopefully for Harbour Porpoise who frequent this area but the sea state wasn't conducive for spotting these typically undemonstrative cetaceans.

Kittiwake Peter Howlett 17
Kittiwake (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The Oldenburg made excellent time to the Island and the crossing was cool but dry. Birds were fairly sparse but the gulls and Gannets were around and as we neared the island there were increasing numbers of small groups of auks on the sea including a single Puffin picked up by Rick who was the Wildlife Officer on board. Since Lundy Island was cleared of its rat population the Puffin and Manx Shearwater are nesting in increasing numbers.

It's been generally a challenging spring for wildlife and Lundy Island when we arrived was fairly quiet with less written on the sightings board than usual at this time of year. However, the rain had stayed on the mainland, so we had a dry if somewhat windy walk along Lundy's dramatic coastline. This bracing walk was followed by a much needed mug of tea in the Marisco Tavern.

Grey Seal Peter Howlett 07
Grey Seal (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The return crossing was again quiet regarding sightings and the only marine mammal definitely spotted was a male Grey Seal surrounded by wooden flotsam. There was quite a lot of wood floating around due to the recent spring tides. These floating dark shapes making it even harder to pick up any brief glimpse of a porpoise fin.

We again made excellent time back to Ilfracombe and our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for allowing us on board to continue this survey.