Sightings Archives: July 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Newhaven-Dieppe ‘Seven Sisters’ 22 July 2012

Posted 25 July 2012

Suzie Opacic and Lesley Anderson Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather:Sea state 2 on the outbound leg, dropping to 1 on the return leg, excellent visibility.

Unidentified Dolphin Sp. 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2

Fulmar Fulmaris glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 69
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Great Skua Stercoarius skua  1
Black-headed gull Gull Larus ridibundus 13
Common Gull Larus canus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 14
Lesser Black-backed Larus fuscus Gull 3
Great Black-backed Larus marinus Gull 7
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 7
Large Gull Sp. 8

Suzie on Seven SistersWe arrived at the port on a beautiful sunny morning, eager for our first trip on the Newhaven to Dieppe route. After a short chat to some interested passengers in the terminal, we boarded the Seven Sisters and were taken straight up to the bridge. The ship's purser and crew made us very welcome and we explained the work we were doing whilst being shown the ship's instruments. Not long had we been on the bridge when the crew brought us a cooked lunch, meaning we were able to continue observing.

At 12:50 we had exciting glimpses of two dolphins, firstly spotting a dorsal fin, followed by a second animal as the first went sub surface. Unfortunately we were unable to pick the dolphins up again for a positive identification, with the wave crests and sun's reflections making for deceiving conditions. We continued to observe Gannets for the remaining duration of the outbound leg and recorded a Great Black-backed Gull sat on the water, swiftly taking off as the ship approached. As we came into the harbour at Dieppe we had good views of Common Tern and Black- Headed Gulls flocking around the ship as it turned up silt from the seabed.

We strolled into the town and along the bustling seafront, enjoying the +20c temperatures and a refreshing drink at a nearby cafe, before returning to the ship. We spent some time observing the birds in the harbour from the outside decks, including large numbers of Herring Gull sat around the large gravel piles on the quayside. Black-headed gulls continued to circle near the ship.

The return journey saw a mirror calm sea making for excellent viewing conditions, so we were hopeful of further sightings. Our optimism paid off, as just over halfway into the crossing we had good views of two Harbour Porpoises moving steadily down the starboard side of the ship, much to the crew's delight. 


A further highlight was a Great Skua observed at 19:30. As we neared Newhaven, we were treated to a beautiful sunset and fantastic views of plunge diving gannets showing beautifully against the red sky and mirror calm sea. What a great end to the day! The daylight disappeared as we approached the port and the shore staff were keen to hear about our sightings following the swift disembarkation for foot passengers.

We would like to thank the staff and crew of the Seven Sisters for their warm welcome and hospitality.

Suzie Opacic and Lesley Anderson Research Surveyors for MARINElife