MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 22 August 2015

Samantha Blampied and John McLaughlin, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Sunny to start and low winds but with thick fog on the first crossing and then heavy rain and a less favourable sea state on the return journey.

Summary of sightings:

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 2
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 7
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Tern sp. 1

I would firstly like to thank the Condor staff and captains for being so welcoming and accommodating us during the survey. Also, thank you to Rachel Gifford for arranging our places on the boat, especially during the particularly busy summer holiday period.

The day started off lovely and sunny and, with high hopes of seeing dolphins, John and I boarded the Condor Rapide. Once on the bridge the captain informed us that there was thick fog out to sea and about 20 minutes into the crossing we encountered a fog bank that didn't clear until we were a few miles off the coast of St. Malo. While the fog meant a nice smooth crossing, it also meant we could not see much for the majority of the journey, although during clear patches we did manage to see Gannet, Shag, a few gulls, two Sooty Shearwater and a lone Storm Petrel. The latter two being a cause for excitement.

Sooty Shearwater Peter Howlett 01
Sooty Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

The sun was still shining when we arrived in St. Malo but it quickly turned to cloud and rain. The weather slowly deteriorated throughout the day and unfortunately didn't clear up in time for the return journey. Heavy rain accompanied us for the majority of the sailing, the plus side being we could at least  see for a few kilometres this time. With the windscreen wipers on we were able to continue the survey and logged a small number of seabird species. Just before we arrived in Jersey we saw a Grey Heron flying towards the coast line. Unfortunately we did not see cetaceans on either crossing, but it was good practice for our bird identification skills and also for training a keen eye in unfavourable conditions.