MARINElife Blog: DFDS Seaways ‘Cote D’Albatre’ Newhaven-Dieppe 13 February 2016

David Doxford and Jo Collins, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Weather: Brisk winds (force 5/6 with force 7 gusts), sea state 4-5 but improving through the day; visibility was generally good except for light rain on departure from Newhaven.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4
Gannet Morus bassanus 46
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 27
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 14
Guillemot Uria aalge 62
Razorbill Alca torda 1
Auk sp. 1
Larus sp. 5
Shearwater sp. 1

We met up at Newhaven ferry terminal and were quickly booked in by the friendly DFDS Transmanche Ferries staff and transported to the Côte D'Albatre. On completing the initial manoeuvres out of Newhaven Harbour we were escorted to the bridge where we were welcomed by Captain Bidet before settling down to begin our survey.

Ganet Jo Collins 01
Gannet (Jo Collins)

The survey proved 'auk rich' with numerous Guillemot and one Razorbill; over a third of our bird sightings were auks. Great Skua, a major feature of previous trips on this route, were totally absent. Jo saw one shearwater in the distance but it was not possible to make out the species. There was the usual parade of Gannet, including some actively fishing.

Around mid-trip Jo spotted our single cetacean of the trip; a lone Harbour Porpoise which behaved as they usually do and rapidly excused itself. It was unusual to see one in mid-Channel as they normally stay close to the coast.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 01a
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Approaching Dieppe we spotted the usual gulls, Herring, Great Black-backed and Black-headed, escorting the ship into port. David also noticed a couple of Harbour Seal hauled out on the beach just to the east of Dieppe harbour.

As we arrived in Dieppe close to dusk we did not venture ashore. Instead we dug out the laptop and entered our survey data. The return trip was spent relaxing.

We would like to thank DFDS Seaways/Transmanche Ferries for enabling us to survey on this route. Special thanks to Captain Bidet, his officers and crew of the Cote D'Albatre for their hospitality.