MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS ‘Clementine’ Immingham-Cuxhaven 18th - 20th October 2013

Weather: Outward: Wind 5 SE-S Inward: Wind 5 SW

Cheryl Leaning and Lucie Bernardova, research surveyors for MARINElife

Cetaceans and mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1

Eider Somateria mollissima 160
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 116
Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca 4
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 15
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Gannet Morus bassanus 26
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
Arctic (Parasitic) Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 17
Common Gull Larus canus 5
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 18
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 18
Little Gull Larus minutus 22
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 25
Unidentified Gull Sp. 15
Guillemot Uria aalge 21

Terrestrial Birds
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 7 (at sea)
Feral Pigeon 1 (at sea)
Wood Pigeon 1 (at sea)
Swan Sp. 5 (at sea)
Great Egret 1 (in estuary)
Small Duck Sp. 6 (in estuary)
Pipit Sp. 2 (at sea)
Avocet (3) (in estuary)
Wader Sp. 25

We were whisked on board 'Clementine' by the friendly and efficient DFDS staff and shown to our spacious, comfortable cabins by the ship's Steward. Departure was a little later than scheduled so after a tasty dinner, we took advantage of an early night.

KittiwakeAfter breakfast, we joined the bridge well before dawn and were able to familiarise ourselves with the instruments in time to watch the sunrise. There was a moderate breeze, which made conditions slightly challenging for cetacean spotting. The birds soon started to show with gulls, Gannet (the most frequent initially) and a pair of kittiwake.  Movement of Common Scoter were seen as we started to draw near to Heligoland with 4 Velvet Scoter amongst a larger group of around 70.

A bevy of five swans passed ahead of the bow just slightly too far and too high to positively identify the species. Little Gull became more numerous as the German coastline came into view. The distant sandbanks were littered with seals and large flocks of waders were just visible through the mist. Eider ducks were present in sizeable rafts. We watched a trio of avocet, disturbed by our passage, fly off, the monochrome plumage familiar to any Humbersider. We had a rather special escort as we approached the quay in the form of a Great Egret. It flew languorously alongside us for quite some time before heading east across the vast estuary.

  Kittiwake (Rob Petley-Jones)

We spent the afternoon inputting the data, enjoying more delicious meals and were tucked up in bed long before the ship was fully loaded.


Harbour Porpoise Graham Ekins 01
Sea conditions were a little more promising as Sunday dawned. Visibility was varied as was the cloud cover. Guillemot, Fulmar and gulls were joined by a couple of opportunistic Starling, which steadfastly stuck to the ship for a few hours, despite the best efforts of the wind to blow them overboard. A Black-throated Diver was a highlight followed by two separate Manx Shearwater sightings and an Arctic Skua on passage.

A Harbour Porpoise made a brief appearance close in to the bow as we crossed the Friesland Junction, this proved to be the only mammal sighting of the trip. 

With visibility rapidly diminishing, we bade our host's farewell and made a final visit to the Officers' Mess where we were treated to a hearty goulash. Data-entry completed, we turned in and managed a good eight hours before arriving promptly in Immingham at 4am.

   Harbour Porpoise (Graham Ekins)

Captain Butremenko and the crew and officers of the Clementine could not have been more welcoming and attentive hosts. We are very grateful to DFDS for their continued support. 

Cheryl Leaning and Lucie Bernardova, Research Surveyors for MARINElife