MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Clementine’ Immingham-Cuxhaven survey 6-8 June 2014

Jenny Boatwright and Margie Holden, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Eastbound: W 3-4 dry, partly cloudy, good visibility with some glare.
Westbound: E to SES 2-4, clear, dry and good visibility

Summary of sightings:

Cetaceans and mammals
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 8
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 4
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4
Cetacean Sp. 1
Dolphin Sp. 14

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 17
Gannet Morus bassanus 110
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 6
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 5
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 141
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 157
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 22
Guillemot Uria aalge 41
'Commic' Tern 6
Unidentified Auk sp. 3
Unidentified Gull sp. 156
Unidentified Small Gull sp. 110
Unidentified Large Gull sp. 5

Terrestrial Birds
Sand Martin Riparia riparia 1
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 4
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 8

The Captain welcomed us on board, as we sat down for lunch having been driven to the ship by DFDS shore staff. On leaving the lock gates at Immingham we were welcomed onto the bridge to begin our survey. As we headed up the Humber one of our first sightings was a Sand Martin flying past.

Our day was busy with seabirds, especially Gannet. These included four which spent over 90 minutes floating on the wind above the starboard side of the bridge, an awesome sight! Cetacean highlights of the day were two pods of Common Dolphin (one of 3, the other 5 individuals) surfacing as they swan past the ship.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 06
Common Dolphin (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

Day two of the survey and we were up on the bridge for sunrise. This was a quieter day but we enjoyed watching several Common Tern fishing as we approached the German port. Once in port the Captain kindly arranged for us to borrow two of the ship's bicycles for the journey into town. The hot and sunny conditions meant we soon found an outdoor café and enjoyed freshly pressed juices and ice creams, from the assortment of over fifty flavours available. We then enjoyed a walk around the town's arboretum before the return cycle back to the ship.

We stayed up to watch the sunset as we departed Cuxhaven, before retiring for the night in preparation for day three of the survey. We arrived on the bridge at sunrise to find beautifully calm and sunny conditions and within a few minutes observed a Harbour Porpoise. Before breakfast the first officer informed us we would be arriving at Immingham that evening, rather than the early hours of the morning. As we continued our survey, cetaceans were a common sight throughout the day, including further Harbour Porpoise, and several pods of dolphins, including a group of four White-beaked Dolphin. The conditions remained perfect for cetacean watching right up until we entered the Humber.

WB Dolphin James Phillips 01a
White-beaked Dolphin (Archive photo: James Phillips)

On arriving back at Immingham, we were quickly ferried back to our dockside cars by the ever obliging DFDS port staff. As I drove out of Immingham, I was delighted to see a Barn Owl out hunting, a lovely end to the trip.

Many thanks as ever to the Captain and crew of the Clementine for their hospitality and assistance on board.