MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ Jersey-St Malo 29 May 2016

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

Weather: Wind NE 4, overcast, visibility 2 nautical miles

Summary of sightings:

Gannet Morus bassanus 26
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 49
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Razorbill Alca torda 2

Although a Sunday sailing the boat was extremely busy with families heading to France for the half-term holiday. Despite this we left promptly at the scheduled time of 09:05 and Cabin Manager Virginie took us upstairs to wait outside the restricted area until we cleared the red zone. A short time later Ben Bernard led us onto the bridge and Capt. Waldemar Siediecki warmly greeted us.

Gannet Peter Howlett 05
Gannet (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

We were recording by 09:17, conditions were good with a steady NE force 4, little swell and the visibility was much better than expected after the thick fog we had endured the previous day. Interestingly, today's course took us west of Les Minquiers via the SW Minquiers buoy turning SE for the final part of the uneventful voyage to St Malo. The Captain very kindly offered us drinks and mentioned that they had already sighted a dolphin on the earlier trip up from St Malo. Throughout the journey there were an encouraging number of Gannets and Herring Gulls, interspersed with a couple of Razorbills and Shag towards the end of the trip. Sadly, however, no cetaceans were seen.

It was an overcast and cool day in St Malo and after a pleasant lunch we whiled away an hour or so studying our recently acquired and thoroughly recommended book, "Guide to Whale Watching in Britain & Europe" by Mark Carwardine. We reboarded and the ship left promptly at 16:30. Herve, the Cabin Manager was expecting us and asked us to wait for the red zone to clear. Whilst sitting with the other passengers we chatted with two couples who were very interested in what we were doing aboard and so we took the opportunity to promote MARINElife.

Herring Gull Peter Howlett 03
Herring Gull (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Captain Mark South had now taken over the helm. Recording commenced quickly at 16:49 helped by the fact that we had been able to leave our equipment aboard ready to pick up as soon as we returned. Weather conditions were still ideal for the survey although visibility was only 2 nautical miles and it soon became apparent that this leg was also to be dominated by Gannet and Herring Gull. Again there were no cetaceans, but we did have the good fortune to see a pair of Sandwich Terns feeding near a raft of seaweed.

Many thanks to Captain Waldemar Siediecki, Captain Mark South and the crew of the Condor 'Rapide' for welcoming us aboard to carry out this survey.