Sightings Archives: November 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Lagan' 23rd November 2013

Posted 29 November 2013

Joe O'Hanlon and Colin Gill, Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather:  Sea state 1-2; Wind NW 1-2; Visibility good; Overcast

Summary of Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 4
Harbour Porpoise Phoceona phocoena 8
Dolphin sp 2
Grey seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Harbour Seal  Phoca vitulina 1

Great crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 52
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 86
Cormorant Phalocrocorax carbo 348
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 21
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 106
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 43
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Kittiwake Rissa trydactyla 81
Large Gull sp 970
Guillemot Uria aalge 217
Razorbill Alco torda 208
Auk sp 1324

Other birds
Redshank  Tringa tetanus 17
Wader sp 35

We were welcomed by the very friendly and helpful port staff & crew, and after leaving the berth we were taken up to the bridge and welcomed by Captain Scocchi.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 04Given the weather for the last two surveys we were very lucky to have a very smooth crossing for November, with the sea state not getting above two.  As a result we had good number of cetacean sightings.

Immediately we were recording good numbers of Cormorant as we passed the Anthony Gormley Statues, along with various gulls, waders and Common Scoter, with a treat of seeing a Great Northern Diver fly across the bow.

The cetacean watching started just within the first hour, with five Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin seen over a twenty minute period.  We were then treated to two sightings of Grey Seal and Harbour Seal over the next hour.  After another couple of hours we again started to see Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin with a further five different sighting along with one more Grey Seal on the surface eating a meal and being harassed by several Herring Gull.

The only thing that stopped us was the dusk that meant we had to finish recording before arriving in Belfast port.

As we progressed to north of the Isle of Man we recorded four active feeding spots within approximately two square kilometres, with in excess of one thousand birds in and around these four concentrations.  The birds were eating on the surface so we considered they may be on carcass but thought it would be unlikely that four carcases in such a small area to be.  There were no fishing boats around so may have been something carried in the currents.

Once again our thanks go to the staff and crew of the Stena Lagan who made this a very enjoyable crossing.

Joe O'Hanlon and Colin Gill, Research Surveyors for MARINElife