Sightings Archives: August 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Poole-Santander 'Cotentin' 11th-13th August 2012

Posted 20 August 2012

Sharon Morris and Suzie Opacic, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Southbound: NW 1-3 Northbound: SW-NW 2-3

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 10
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 192
Striped Dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba 4
Fin Whale Balaenoptera physalus 3
Rorqual Sp.1

Fulmar Fulmaris glacialis 13
Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea 10
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 2
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 162
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 17
Great Skua Stecorarius skua 6
Common Gull Larus canus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 26
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 24
Guillemot Uria aalge 5

Once we arrived at the port we were quickly escorted to the 'Contentin', with plenty of time for a hearty breakfast before our long first day surveying (we anticipated plenty of daylight).

Common-DolphinsWe went up to the bridge just before departing and were greeted by the bridge crew who were very welcoming and pointed us in the direction of the tea and coffee facilities. Captain Antonie Bienvenue introduced himself to us and we settled down to a hopefully eventful day. As predicted we were presented with a few different gull species throughout the morning as well as a great sighting of three Great Skuas, then just before lunch, our first sighting of Common Dolphins.

In the later part of the day we encountered three Cory's Shearwaters and then the action really started as the bridge crew pointed out dolphins approaching from the port side, which was one of three pods that decided to entertain us and keep us on our toes, (the other two pods came in directly ahead and then from starboard). Once the excitement died down, we spoke to some of the crew about MARINElife, which from then on really enthused them. The next morning was just as productive, as another pod of dolphins came in from the port side. After the first cetacean sighting of the day a young cadet approached us and asked us to try and point out any other sightings as he had not yet seen any. He wanted to know more about MARINElife and how he could become more involved, so we advised him to have a look at our website as all the information is on there. 
Our first whale sightings came in the form of three Fin Whales, unfortunately we only saw the large distinctive blows, but it's nice to know they are out there. 

Rescued Storm-PetrelOn the return journey we were not so lucky with the cetaceans, but the birds kept us busy. During the morning a couple of the crew came to us with a box and said they had found something in the engine room. On inspecting the contents we discovered it was a Storm Petrel! They were not sure how it got there and were not sure if it was injured. One of the crew had given it the name Peu Peu - which we think may mean 'little one'. We couldn't see any obvious signs of injury so we let it rest in the cabin for a few hours. As we approached the Channel we decided to see if it had recovered enough to fly away. However, it was rather reluctant to come out of the box and once on the deck flapped a few times before deciding it wanted to go back in the box. So Suzie took it home as the Cotentin was going to Dunkirk for its refit and would not be returning to Spain. Suzie made a few enquiries and took Peu Peu to the Seabird Centre in Ringwood. They said they would let it recoup and build its strength for a couple of days before releasing it.

We would like to thank Captain Antonie Bienvenue and all the crew of the 'Cotentin' for the warm welcome and assistance they gave us during a very pleasant survey.

Sharon Morris and Suzie Opacic, Research Surveyors for MARINElife