MARINElife Survey Report: 'MS Oldenburg' Ilfracombe-Lundy 13 July 2019

Rick Morris and Amanda Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Westbound: Cloudy, wind moderate, sea state 3-4, with slight swell
Eastbound: Cloudy, wind moderate, sea state 3, with slight swell

Summary of sightings

Marine mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 3
Unidentified Dolphin sp. 1

Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 5
Gannet  Morus bassanus 8
Guillemot Uria aalge 60
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 3
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 177
Razorbill Alca torda 11
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2

It was a mild, cloudy day with over 240 visitors boarding MS Oldenburg. As we waited to depart Ilfracombe harbour a Cormorant delighted us, fishing in the calm water, surfacing with a flat fish which soon disappeared as breakfast.

Cormorant Rick Morris 01
Cormorant (Rick Morris)

The crossing was soon underway and it was surprisingly quiet with sightings. One lone dolphin sp. leapt from the sea just once and was too quick to get an identification. Bird sightings were few and consisted mainly of auks with the odd Fulmar and Manx Shearwater.

Once on the island we walked to Jenny's Cove and saw many nesting and feeding Puffins flying back and forth. Amongst the Puffins were Razorbill, Guillemot and some Fulmar sat tightly on their nests. It was a beautiful day on Lundy and upon return to the harbour a young Grey Seal (about 9 months old) was enjoying a rest in a rather problematic position, right by the slipway. Most of the passengers were able to take close-up photos whilst we kept them and the seal safe from close proximity. He indulged in a bit of yawning, scratching and biting of his flippers in-between snoozing then an adult seal (possibly his mum) bobbed up on the opposite side of the harbour. Once we had all boarded MS Oldenburg for our return journey he was gone.

Grey Seal Rick Morris 13
9 month old Grey Seal (Rick Morris)

There were more bird sightings on the return trip with many Guillemots rafting, the fathers looking after their chicks. About halfway across three Common Dolphin were sighted, leaping to the starboard side and travelling in our easterly direction.

A group of over 80 Manx Shearwater were rafting and as we came nearer to Ilfracombe sightings quietened down once more.

Our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Oldenburg for allowing us on board to continue this survey.