Sightings Archives: September 2012

MARINElife survey report: Immingham-Brevik: ‘Petunia Seaways’ 23rd-26th September 2012

Posted 03 October 2012

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Weather: Immingham-Brevik: 3-4 E-NE. Sunny, Brevik-Gothenburg: 3-6 NE-E with light rain
Gothenburg-Immingham: 6-2 SE-W Cloud decreasing during the day

Cetaceans and mammals:
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 19
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 2
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 12
Unidentified Seal Sp.1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 148
Gannet Morus bassanus 382
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 41
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 10
Common Gull Larus canus 11
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 144
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 27
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8
Little Gull Larus minutus 1
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 254
Puffin Fratercula arctica 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 424
Eider Somateria mollissima 275
Skua Sp.1
Small Gull Sp.1
Gull Sp.190
Larus Sp.4
Shearwater Sp.1

Terrestrial Birds:
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
Hooded Crow Corvus corone corone 3
Jay Garrulus glandarius 2
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 6
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus 1
Wader Sp.10

Immingham to Brevik

Skua & GannetI boarded the Petunia Seaways in the early hours of the 23rd and was welcomed by the crew and retired to my comfortable cabin to sleep before the survey began in earnest at dawn.
As the sun rose the vessel was 37 miles east of the Humber Estuary. The sea was calm and the visibility was excellent. The main birds seen at this point were Gannet, Guillemot with their young and Fulmar. As the day progressed Kittiwake and Lesser Black-backed Gull appeared. A Great Skua appeared four hours into the survey and started to harass a Gannet for food. It did this by attempting to land on the Gannet's back whilst it was still flying, the attempts were unsuccessful. An hour later a group of seven Harbour Porpoise were seen swimming quickly away from our vessel and as we passed them, they resumed their normal swimming behaviour and were lost to sight. Two hours later a further two Harbour Porpoise were seen hunting for food accompanied by Kittiwake.

The next morning the weather was still fine and sunny as we made our approach to Brevik. The morning survey lasted an hour as we navigated our way through the islands in the fjord. The local pilot pointed out an island with a seal colony with animals hauled out onto the rocks. He also mentioned that the previous week a large shoal of herring had entered the fjord and 50 tonnes had been caught by the local fisherman. This helped to account for the many gulls that were still present in the area.  We docked at Brevik and I took the opportunity to walk into the town and sit and read in the autumn sunshine. On returning to the ship I could see several orange jellyfish in the water, these turned out to be Lions Mane jellyfish, known as Brennmanet in Norway.

Common Gull 1

Brevik to Gothenburg

We left Brevik just after 6pm BST, and again navigated the islands that make up the entrance to the fjord. The various inlets were dotted with Eider and gulls sitting in the water and a solitary flying Grey Heron. A Cormorant flew past as the light failed and I left the bridge for the night.
The next morning I awoke to a cloudy sky with mist and rain as we approached Gothenburg. Birds were appearing out of the gloom with the majority being Herring Gull, Common Gull and Cormorant. As we approached the port, Mute Swan could be seen next to an Island with Eider sheltering there too. The ship reversed onto the berth and the Herring and Common Gull moved to the front of the ship to take advantage of the movement of the vessel pushing food up from the seabed.

Gothenburg to Immingham

Kittiwake by GEWe left Gothenburg at 19:15 BST and there was no chance of surveying as night had fallen and the lights of Gothenburg were shining brightly, a reminder that winter was on its way.
The survey resumed just after 6am on Wednesday and we were 46 miles west of Denmark. The morning was cloudy with a stiff breeze and the occasional rain shower. Gannet were making the most of these conditions together with Fulmar and as the day progressed Guillemot appeared on the water and Kittiwake were more in evidence. A few Harbour Porpoise appeared in the early afternoon, rushing away from our vessel. By the mid-afternoon the wind had eased and the sea state was becoming more favourable for cetacean sightings. Just before 5pm I spotted two pairs of Harbour Porpoise close to the ship followed by a further three animals. There were also more birds evident over the next hour culminating in two sightings of Minke Whale, with the first animal rolling slowly to the south of the ship, the second dived down to hunt, a wonderful end to the survey. With the sun now virtually on the horizon and the light fading I thanked the Captain and Officers of the 'Petunia Seaways' for their hospitality and left the bridge.

Many thanks to DFDS for their continued support

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife