Melissa Goulton and Cassie Bye - Research Surveyors for
Conditions westbound: Wind NW force 3-7
Conditions eastbound: Wind SW force 2-4
Cetaceans and Seals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 5
Seal sp. 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 286
Gannet Morus bassanus 35
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 21
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 224
Guillemot Uria aalge 355
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Puffin Fratercula arctica 5
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 1
Auk sp. 28
Gull sp. 2
Tern sp. 15
On this Marinelife survey I was accompanied by Cassie, who studied marine biology with me at Bangor University. With our rangefinder sticks in hand and wearing our high visibility jackets, we made our way towards the ferry. As I'd been on the Liverpool-Dublin freight route before and knew what to expect, everything ran pretty smoothly. Additionally, the Seatruck staff were really helpful, and brought us chairs, offered us biscuits, made us dinner and updated the ships display screens for us with environmental data we required for our survey.
On our journey towards Dublin the sea did become
quite choppy, which reduced our ability to see any cetaceans.
However we recorded over two hundred birds including Guillemot,
Manx Shearwater, Black Guillemot, Gannet, Kittiwake and various
terns. It was only the second time I'd seen a Black
Guillemot, but the large oval upperwing patches made this seabird
easily recognisable. We saw a couple of Gannet diving on our
outbound journey, but unfortunately there were no signs of any
marine mammals nearby.
As we approached Dublin the numbers of Manx Shearwater and Guillemot increased, and we were greeted by a few Cormorant flying low over the water as we entered the port.
After taking a taxi ride through the busy streets of Dublin, we arrived at the Jury's Inn hotel on Christchurch road ready to explore the local area. After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we walked along some of the narrow cobbled streets by the canal, before ending up at one of many Irish pubs nearby. The pub was a good choice as musicians were playing some traditional Irish songs (amongst other classics), and we ended up getting front row seats. We even decided to sample the local Guinness...which was slightly nicer than we both remembered!
The next day the sea was calmer and we sighted a lot more seabirds sitting on the surface of the water. About an hour into our journey we spotted our first cetacean, a Harbour Porpoise in the distance. This sighting was quickly followed by a further three Harbour Porpoise sightings, and then a seal also made an appearance.
We were hoping that we might see more cetaceans around the offshore wind farms found off the Welsh coasts, as I'd seen cetaceans there on a previous survey, but unfortunately on this occasion we didn't find any. As we approached the port in Liverpool we recorded plenty of Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kittiwakes, Herring Gull, Gannet, and some terns. All in all, a great trip and definitely a survey route we would like to carry out again, despite being quite far from where we both live.
Melissa Goulton and Cassie Bye - Research Surveyors for MARINElife