Sightings Archives: July 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Dublin 'MV Seatruck Progress & Seatruck Power' 25th-26th July 2013

Posted 05 August 2013

Stephen Dunstan and Jane Dunstan - Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Conditions: Westbound E 2-3; Eastbound S 1-2


Cetaceans and mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 4
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 16
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Cormorant Phalacorcorax carbo 42
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 6
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 18
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 972
Gannet Morus bassanus 128
Skua sp. 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 40
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 13
Common Gull Larus Canus    70
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 175
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 3
Sandwich TernSterna sandvicensis 4
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 43
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 69
Puffin 3
Guillemot Uria aalge 828
Razorbill Alca torda 15
Auk sp. 193

Shorebirds during survey effort:
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 57
Dunlin Calidris alpine 30

Other waterbirds seen in Dublin Harbour:
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus malanocephalus
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

We arrived and good time and were escorted to the Seatruck Progress.  Following breakfast we were transferred to the bridge efficiently and began surveying as we left the Mersey mouth.

Harbour PorpoiseInitially we recorded coastal birds, including Common Gull and Cormorant as well as Common Tern from the nearby Seaforth Dock breeding colony.  Gradually this gave way to more marine species including Kittiwake, Gannet, Manx Shearwater and Guillemot.  Off the North Wales coast we saw what appeared to be a corpse floating in the water, possibly a Harbour Porpoise.  
Unfortunately much of the remainder of the crossing was impaired by fairly thick mist, though when it did clear as we neared Dublin harbour we saw our first cetaceans of the trip in the form of a couple of Harbour Porpoise.

In the evening we took a taxi to our hotel room kindly provided to Marinelife by Jury's Inn, in the majestic Custom House Quay area.  We had time for a wander round the city before preparing for an early start with a good night's sleep.

Friday morning we were smoothly transferred onto the Seatruck Power.  We saw Black Guillemot and a single Mediterranean Gull in the harbour before getting underway with the survey in earnest.  Unfortunately we soon had to abandon the surveying in earnest as more dense mist afflicted us.  Fortunately it cleared more promptly than on Thursday and had less of an impact on our results.

Common Dolphin Peter Howlett 04Some way from the Irish coast we had a small pod of dolphins swimming swiftly past the front of the boat, which were eventually seen well enough to confirm them as Common Dolphin.   Soon after another apparent corpse floating on the surface caused us consternation, but proved to be a sheep rather than another cetacean.  As the sea state dropped to almost mirror calm we began to see good numbers of Harbour Porpoise near the Burbo Bank windfarm.

Overall it was a successful survey despite the mist problems, we are very grateful to Seatruck Ferries for their assistance with this route and excellent hospitality.

Stephen Dunstan and Jane Dunstan - Research Surveyors for MARINElife