MARINElife blog: DFDS Seaways 'Seven Sisters' Newhaven-Dieppe 14 February 2015

Peter Jones, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Initially sea state 2, with good visibility and occasional showers. The sea state later dropped to 1.

Summary of species recorded

Common Scoter  Melanitta nigra 3
Eider Somateria mollissima 2
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 14
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 6
Gannet Morus bassanus 348
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 10
Common Gull Larus canus 8
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 312
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 39
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 25
Guillemot Uria aalge 48
Razorbill Alca torda 4
Unidentified Diver Sp. 3

After enjoying a breakfast in the Newhaven ferry terminal café, I made my way onto the Seven Sisters ship, and was invited onto the bridge for the survey. As we departed Newhaven the sea looked reasonably calm, and I enjoyed an initial flurry of gulls including Black-headed, Common, Great Black-backed and Herring.

Gannet Peter Howlett 08
Gannet (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Shortly afterwards a few small groups of Red-Throated Diver were recorded, plus two other divers that, although definitely not Red-throated, were too distant to identify. A Great Skua passed close to the ship and rafts of Guillemot were seen on the water.

I then observed the nice spectacle of a fishing boat being followed by hundreds of gulls and Gannet. The trail of birds behind the vessel stretched for at least a mile. This happened again with a second fishing vessel, though with fewer birds.

Razorbill Peter Howlett 04
Razorbill (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

For the final hour of the crossing the sea state became even calmer, and it was a surprise that no cetaceans were recorded in such perfect conditions. Gannet dominated the sightings with a pair of Razorbill seen on the water until finally, with the French coast in sight, two Eider and three Common Scoter were seen.

For the return journey, there was time for just under an hour of surveying. This was dominated by Herring Gull and Gannet.

I thanked the ship's crew for their hospitality throughout the day, and arrived back at Newhaven after a very enjoyable survey.