MARINElife survey report: Liverpool-Dublin February 2015

Colin Gill and Vincent Green - Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Conditions westbound: Wind NW Variable 26-31 Knots; Swell 1-2; Visibility 1-3
Conditions eastbound: Wind SW Variable 19-26 Knots; Swell 1; Visibility 4-5


Cetaceans and Seals: Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 2
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 2

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 33
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 27
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 97
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 11
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 8
Common Gull Larus canus 10
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 49
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 14
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 47
Guillemot Uria aalge 216
Razorbill Alca torda 23
Unidentified Shearwater sp. 1
Unidentified Gull sp. 2

Harbour Porpoise Mike Bamford 01On an overcast February morning we boarded the Progress and after waiting a short while in the lock finally set off around mid-morning. The lack of birds in the Mersey should have been an early warning but we were optimistic of a good survey with plenty to see. However, the very choppy water and strong winds lowered the opportunity to see any cetacean or bird life.

In fact the whole section along the Welsh coast line was surprising sparse, which we put down to the very variable weather front that had been around for the previous few days. As we passed Anglesey a Grey Seal was seen taking in its surrounding before disappearing into the surf. Then we were lucky to have two Harbour Porpoise sightings as the waves broke in the right way to gift us a very brief glimpse.

Apart from another seal nearing Dublin this proved to be the last sightings of the trip. Even the birds were not coming out to play, although we did discover where most of the Guillemot had gone as they seemed to be taking it easy around Dublin Bay. We thanked Captain James and his crew for their excellent hospitality and headed for a pleasant evening sampling other forms of Irish fare.

The return leg on the Power promised much better weather with clearer skies and calmer seas, so it was very disappointing not to add to our tally of cetaceans or any other marine mammals. The bird life did seem to be returning with all the normal suspects evident throughout the trip. However it was a quiet crossing, but due to the warmth and humour of Captain Daley and his crew the return trip was still enjoyable.
Manx Shearwater Peter Howlett 01

We had a slight delay in getting back through the lock at Liverpool but this did give the opportunity to practice our juvenile gull identification skills as quite a few kept circling the ship.

Overall this was still a very enjoyable survey with enough sightings to test our skills and keep up our enthusiasm. Our thanks go to the Captain and crew of both ships for their hospitality and genuine interest in our work.

Colin Gill and Vincent Green - Research Surveyors for MARINElife
(Registered Charity No. 1110884)

Harbour Porpoise Photo: Peter Howlett
Manx Shearwater Photo: Peter Howlett

For a full summary of the species seen during this survey please visit or species pages.