MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ St Helier-St Peter Port-St Malo-St Helier 30 April 2016

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind N force 3 veering NW by evening, air temperature 15C

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 11
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 14
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 3
Razorbill Alca torda 2

Terrestrial birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 6
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica 20
Swallow Hirundo rustica 1

It was unusual to have a Jersey / Guernsey leg for this survey, however Condor were transporting 250 young sports persons to our sister island to compete for the Junior Siam cup. Good Luck to one and all! It was perfect weather for a game of rugby and also for being aboard the Condor Rapide to complete this month's survey of the local waters.

The boat left St Helier at 08:00 and Cabin Manager Luc escorted us to the bridge as soon as the Red Zone had cleared. Captain Mark South welcomed us aboard and we were soon set up and recording by 08:15. By this time we had already reached Noirmont Point. Corbiere lighthouse was a striking sight in the sunlight as we headed across St Ouen's Bay and towards Guernsey.

Visibility was excellent and bird sightings were quite frequent but in small numbers, with both Cormorant and Shag, then Gannet and Razorbill and we were pleased to identify a few Fulmar during the second part of this one hour trip. After a smooth journey, we arrived in St Peter Port at 09:02. Turnaround time was just an hour and we were lucky to be able to stay on deck and enjoy the sunshine, taking care to shelter from the chilly northerly wind, whilst the changeover happened around us.

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Swallow (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We set off to St Malo at 10:00 and were out of Red Zone by 10:05 and recording. Shortly after departure we were delighted to see a Swallow cross the bow. Then, at regular intervals, we saw a good mix of gulls and Gannet, further on we were able to identify a flock of about 20 Bar-tailed Godwit on migration. These were shortly followed by a couple of Sandwich Tern and 8 Shag. We arrived at St Malo at 11:42 BST.

As always we spent a pleasant afternoon in the picturesque walled city and headed back to Le Port for a 17:15 departure back to St Helier. The Cabin Manager took us to the bridge to meet with Captain Walder Siniecri who had taken over from Captain South, for the last leg of today's survey.

Weather conditions were still ideal but the wind direction had swung from due north to a northwesterly direction. Bird sightings were at a premium, with just 2 Shag, a Sandwich Tern, 2 Gannet and 2 Oystercatcher but the day was wholly saved by the glimpse of a Bottlenose Dolphin through the starboard window. Nicky, a crew member who very kindly brought us refreshments, mentioned that she too had seen a single dolphin in these waters just a few days prior.

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Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

As we approached St Helier a seaplane flew overhead, looking to land in St Aubin's Bay as part of the Bank Holiday weekend Jersey Boat Show attractions. Many thanks to Captain Mark South and Captain Walder Siniecri and the crew of the Condor 'Rapide' for welcoming us aboard to carry out this survey. We would also like to convey our thanks to all the Condor staff for always going that 'extra mile' to help and support MARINElife and our work.