Sightings Archives: August 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Liverpool-Dublin 'MV Seatruck Progress & Seatruck Power' 29th-30th August 2013

Posted 03 September 2013

Anna Bunney and Steve Morgan - Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Conditions:  Visibility good both Outward and Inward passages; Sea state varied between 1 and 4.

Summary of Sightings:

Cetaceans and mammals:
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 25
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 11
Botttlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncates 13
Risso's Dolphin Grampus griseus 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 6

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 5
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 1337
Gannet Morus bassanus 104
Cormorant Phalacorcorax carbo 202
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 172
Common Gull Larus Canus 7
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 139
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 40
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Little Gull Rissa tridactyla 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 184
Guillemot Uria aalge 382
Razorbill Alca torda 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 1
Tern sp. 130
Auk sp. 219
Gull sp. 180

Terrestrial birds during survey effort
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1
Dunlin Calidris alpina     1

We arrived in Liverpool in good time and were welcomed aboard the 'Seatruck Progress', where as soon as we had finished breakfast we were shown up to the bridge to begin our survey as we entered the Mersey.  

Common Dolphin Biscay 2005-1loWe left the harbour with fine, still conditions and started to spot lots of terns, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull and Lesser Black Backed Gull.  Grey Seal were spotted hauled out on a sand bank and also bottling in the water.  

During the crossing we came across huge rafts of Manx Shearwater and Guillemot on the water.  As we got closer to Dublin, three Bottlenose Dolphin were seen briefly surfacing in front of the boat, and then three clear sightings of Harbour Porpoise.  As we approached the harbour, good numbers of Cormorant were seen perching on the buoys.

Following a comfortable night's sleep kindly provided by Jury's Inn, we were excited to start our second days surveying and the sea conditions were perfect; flat and calm.  As we were telling the captain that we were very hopeful for more cetacean sightings, Anna spotted a Harbour Porpoise surfacing regularly very close to the ship just behind the captain!  This sighting was the first of eight Harbour Porpoise that we saw just past Dublin harbour.  

Rissos 2Good numbers of Guillimot, Gannet and Manx Shearwater started our first seabird sightings of the day.  A large area of splashing caught Steve's eye in front of the boat, which turned out to be a pod of fifteen Common Dolphin, and we had a spectacular sighting of these swimming and leaping out of the water as they travelled towards the boat.  As soon as we lost sight of this pod, Anna spotted another pod of Common Dolphin.  These animals were also very active, providing us with amazing views as they leapt and jumped out of the water as they swam towards and then across the front of the boat.  

A group of Bottlenose Dolphin were seen briefly on the port side of the boat, and one single Risso's Dolphin was also spotted vertically leaping clean out of the water.

In this amazing hour of cetacean sightings, all were associated with large numbers of Manx Shearwater, Guillemot and auks.

The seabird sightings continued on for the rest of the survey, with good numbers of Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake, and gulls.

Thank you to the friendly Seatruck staff and crew for all of their generous hospitality and interest in the surveys.

Anna Bunney and Steve Morgan - Research Surveyors for MARINElife