Sightings Archives: October 2011

MARINElife Survey Report: Poole-Santander 'Cotentin' 15 - 17 October 2011

Posted 20 October 2011

Rick Morris and Gareth Bradbury Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Southbound: SE-SW 1-3; Northbound: NE-SW 3-5

Cuvier's Beaked Whale Ziphius cavirostris 2
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 501
Striped Dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba 12
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 30
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 4
Large Rorqual sp. 2
Unidentified Blackfish sp. 1
Unidentified Dolphin Sp. 60

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 41
Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 37
European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 35
Gannet Morus bassanus 498
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 12
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 26
Parasitic (Arctic) Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 3
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus 36
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Mediterranean Gull Larus malanocephalus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 323
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 22
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 31
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 7
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 14
Unidentified Auk Species 6
Unidentified Gull Species 338
Unidentified Skua species 1

Terrestrial Birds
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs 1
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba 7
Brent Goose Branta bernicla 15
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 1
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 6
Chiffchaf Phylloscopus collybita 1
Robin Turdus migratorius 1
Short Eared Owl Asio flammeus 1
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis 1
Passerines 22
Unidentified Duck sp. 2
Unidentified Wagtail sp.1
Unidentified Eared Owl sp. 1

We boarded our research vessel the MV Cotentin just after 07:00, on a bright and warm Saturday October morning. After being greeted on board we put our kit in our cabins and went down to the restaurant for a hearty breakfast before making our way up to the bridge ready for departure at 08:00. It was good to see the regular crew again; we exchanged greetings and began to set up on the starboard side ready for departure.

Common Dolphin 5Leaving Poole harbour we observed good numbers birds including a number of little Egrets on Brownsea Island. Heading out into open water we started recording various sea birds, then just after midday we had our first cetacean encounter, a group of ten Common Dolphins, their position given away by Gannets circling overhead. More Common Dolphins and a Harbour Porpoise were observed through the afternoon followed by a lively pod of Bottlenose Dolphin. We came down from the bridge at dusk and upon entering our cabins, looked out of the window to watch a group of Common Dolphins come in to bow ride, followed by another group just before dinner.



Day two gave us a beautiful sunrise and a sea state of one, our expectations were high! Our first cetaceans of the day came at 07:30 a group of eighteen adults and two juvenile Common Dolphins followed by fifty unidentified Dolphin sp. and an unidentified possible Rorqual Whale logging in the distance.

Striped Dolphin 3

As the day progressed we encountered a pod of twelve Striped Dolphins, more Common Dolphins including a large pod of three hundred and fifty which were making light work of a bait ball, two Cuvier's beaked whales and an unidentified black fish!

A short eared owl performed a fly by just before arriving in a very warm and sunny Santander.

The return journey saw the weather deteriorate gradually making it more difficult to spot cetaceans although one Harbour porpoise was seen and a few Lions mane jellyfish.

We observed a Chinook helicopter practising retrieving a SBS speedboat just off Old Harry Rocks, before making the turn into port and recording a few more sea birds.

We thanked the crew and said farewell as we left the bridge to make ready for disembarkation.


Rick Morris and Gareth Bradbury, Research Surveyors for MARINElife