Sightings Archives: April 2016

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Lagan' 23rd April 2016

Posted 04 May 2016

Steve McAusland and Jenny Ball - Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Weather: Sunny; slight NW breeze; sea state 3

Summary of Species Recorded

Cetaceans and mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 8
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 150
Gannet Morus bassanus 22
Cormorant Phalacorcorax carbo 12
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 72
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 13
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 179
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Unidentified gull sp. 4

Grey Seal Steve McAusland 06Arriving in Birkenhead after an early start I met up with Jenny Ball at the Stena Terminal. As usual the staff where ready for us and we were soon on our way to join the "Stena Lagan" our ship for this survey.  Once on board we were allocated a cabin each by Crystal in reception and then she took us to the bridge to meet Captain Tullio Scocchi.  

As the ship began to move towards the entrance of the river Mersey we could see many people enjoying Crosby Beach, and the ship was soon heading out in to Liverpool Bay and on towards the Irish Sea with its many offshore windmills and drilling platforms.  Our route was to take us towards the southern tip of the Isle of Man and then on to Belfast.

Our first sighting of a Grey Seal which was bottling effortlessly in the water was as we passed Blackpool with its famous tower clearly seen in the distance. We soon had our second seal which was also doing the same off the starboard side of the ship.
The trip gave us two pairs of Harbour Porpoise, the first observed before we passed the Chicken Rock Lighthouse on the Isle of Man and the second pair as we approached the port of Belfast.  

Gannet Steve McAusland 03b

During the passage Jenny also caught sight of our only Common Dolphin which was great as this was only her second survey for MARINElife and a good sighting for the day.  Birds along the way were the usual species seen while at sea, however the ones that stood out were the many graceful Manx Shearwater, back now from Patagonia to breed in the UK.  Also notable were two Great Northern Diver.

GN Diver Steve McAusland 01bAs the ship started its way in to Belfast Lough we concluded the survey and thanked the Captain and his crew for their continued support and splendid hospitality. We both look forward to volunteering for this route again.

Steve McAusland and Jenny Ball - Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Grey Seal Photo: Steve McAusland
Gannet Photo: Steve McAusland
Great Northern Diver Photo: Steve McAusland