MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Belfast 'Stena Mersey' 16th November 2019

Nuala Campbell, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Cloudy; Sea state 1-2 Wind N-NE force 4-5 with moderate swell

Summary of Sightings

Marine Mammals
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 4
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 1
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 39
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 22
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Gull sp. Laridae 15

Herring Gull Rob Petley-Jones 07As the Stena Mersey left Liverpool on a grey and chilly morning, I looked forward to crossing the Irish Sea and took up my position on the Bridge eagerly as we made our way out into the open waters.

The two watch Captains, Adam and Paolo, who would be Masters of the ship on the outward voyage, introduced themselves and welcomed me heartily.

The seabirds which accompanied us on our route out of the port were a mixture of Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, a single Gannet and a few Cormorant and juvenile gulls.

Leaving Liverpool and England I spotted two Harbour Porpoise, after which a quiet lull began. The weather continued dull, and sighting wildlife against the combination of grey seas and sky became difficult.

I sighted a Grey Seal spy-hopping as we approached the seas off the Isle of Man, but then imagine my delight as I counted four Short-beaked Common Dolphin cruising in a slow swim across the bow of the ship (which at the time was travelling at a speed over 20 knots so not so leisurely after all!)

My last sighting was of a distant Fulmar soaring low over the water, before the light faded and I reluctantly ended my survey.

Many thanks are due to the Stena crew for ensuring my comfort and enabling these vital surveys to continue.

Nuala Campbell, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Common Dolphin Sharon Morris 06

Herring Gull Photo: Rob Petley-Jones
Common Dolphins Photo: Sharon Morris