MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘ Condor Rapide’ St Helier-St Malo 23 September 2017

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Wind direction: SW backing to a light Eastely

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 1

Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 21
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 14
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 23
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 1

Departure time was scheduled for 09:05, with high water at 09:09.

Vanessa Niochet, the cabin manager greeted us warmly and went straight upstairs to the bridge to inform Captain, Stephen Ainscow that we were on board. We were soon on the bridge with Capt. Ainscow and his team. This was the first time we'd met Capt Ainscow on the Jersey to St Malo crossing however he informed us he knew MARINElife and their work very well and in particular on the Cross-Channel route.

The sea was calm with very little swell. It was warm and sunny with glare only on the port side that did not impair our viewing ability.

We soon started recording Gannet, which became regular sightings throughout the survey, along with the usual Shag, Cormorant and mixture of gulls. We were also pleased to see a couple of migrating Sandwich Tern at the halfway stage. We were alerted by crew member, Christophe, to a single Bottlenose Dolphin feeding near the NE Minquiers Buoy.

BND Peter Howlett 07

Bottlenose Dolphin (Peter Howlett)

We arrived in a very busy bay of St Malo, full of boats of all sizes, including the 55,254 ton Seven Seas Explorer cruise liner with a capacity of 750 passengers.

The day was warm and St Malo was busy. We had time for a swim, an enjoyable lunch in the less fashionable area of the Cité and whiled the rest of the afternoon away in the sun on the beach beneath the surrounding walls.

The return journey departed from St Malo at 18:02 (French time). Dorothee Thomas was our cabin manager for the return journey and Captain Mark South had taken over the helm.  Once on the bridge we had a short conversation with Captain South who informed us that cetacean sightings had been regular this summer.

We commenced our recording at 18:04. The wind had backed from SW to E and the sea state was a little choppier.

As we left the coast of Brittany we had a good mix of gulls again in particular Black-headed and a single Kittiwake. We were disappointed not to get any Shearwater.

BH Gull Carol FarmerWright 01

Black-headed Gull (Carol Farmer-Wright)

The survey finished just short of St Helier at 19.15 as the light failed.

We would like to thank all the staff aboard the Condor Rapide, who made us feel most welcome and helped us throughout the day.

Neil Singleton and Allison Caldeira, Research Surveyors for MARINElife