MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Dublin 'MV Seatruck Progress & Seatruck Power' 13th - 14th March 2014

Lee Slater and Sian Egerton - Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Conditions westbound:     Sea state 0-1; Wind NW-E
Conditions eastbound:     Sea state 3-5; Wind SW-W

Summary of sightings

Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 8

Seabirds:
Great Northern Diver Gavia immer 4
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 16
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 11
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 106
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Black-headed Gull Croicephalus ridibundus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 32
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 32
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 40
Guillemot Uria aalge 206
Razorbill Alca torda 95
Auk sp. 45
Gull sp. 43

Terrestrial Birds:
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 4
Passerine sp. 4

I arrived at Liverpool docks in good time and was kindly given a pre-survey cup of tea from the Seatruck office team.  It was here where I met Sian and when our mugs were empty we were briskly escorted on to the Seatruck Power.  Once aboard a further complimentary meal was provided and shortly afterwards we were taken to the bridge, where the crew warmly greeted us as we unpacked our equipment.

Gannet LSThe weather conditions for this leg were extremely contradictory, with the sea being mirror calm but a thick fog limiting visibility.  Various coastal birds flew over the entrance to the Mersey with a range of gull species gliding out of the fog and some Cormorant resting on every structure that protruded from the sea's surface.

The first marine mammals of the survey were quickly spotted with three Grey Seal lazily resting on the bank.  With the calm seas we were able to spot any break in the surface for the first 1500m and we had multiple sightings of more Grey Seal with a total of 8 being recorded for this survey.  As the vessel ventured further into the Irish Sea more pelagic bird species were observed, with increasing number of Fulmar and Kittiwake.  As the light diminished we returned to the passenger lounge to enjoy another fantastic meal as the vessel neared Dublin harbour.

After a refreshing night's rest kindly provided by Jury's Inn we headed back to the harbour the following morning and on to the Power's sister boat the Progress, hopeful of cetaceans.  The fog from the outward journey had dissipated, but the wind and swell had significantly risen.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 01aA steady stream of Gannet, Razorbill and Guillemot were recorded from the first section of this leg.  An hour into our survey we had the only cetacean sighting as a Harbour Porpoise swiftly emerged close to the bow, but it only broke the surface twice before retreating away from the ship.  We did have good bird numbers and the first Manx Shearwater that I'd seen this year was a personal highlight.  The Seatruck Progress arrived in Liverpool ahead of schedule when we gather up our forms, thanked the crew, and returned to Liverpool in good spirits after a successful survey.

I would like to thank the Captain, crew and staff of Seatruck Ferries for their hospitality and continued support, as well as to the friendly staff at Jury's Inn for the nights' accommodation.   

Lee Slater and Sian Egerton - Research Surveyors for MARINElife