Sightings Archives: September 2012

MARINElife Survey Report: Rosyth-Zeebrugge "Tor Finlandia" 14 - 15 September 2012

Posted 19 September 2012

John Perry and Dorota Cieslikiewicz, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Outbound W4, sea state 3-4 and clear, inbound W2 sea state 2 and clear

Cetacea / marine mammals
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 2
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 1

Common Eider Somateria mollissima 1
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra 22
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis  151
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus  1
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus  3
Gannet Morus bassanus  633
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo  2
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 18
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2
Common Gull Larus canus 1
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 11
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 57
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 9
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 15
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 4
Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 1
Puffin Fratercula arctica 10
Guillemot Uria aalge 81

Terrestrial Birds
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 2
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 2
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 3

WB Dolphin

We were welcomed aboard the 'Tor Finlandia' by the crew and shown to our cabins where we had a very peaceful night despite the strong gale blowing around Rosyth. Captain Gintaras Kucinskas assured us that the wind was dying down and that the sail to Zeebrugge would be perfectly comfortable.

At 06:30 BST we started our first day on the bridge to find that the Captain had been absolutely right and there was clear skies, sunshine and a gentle swell as we passed St. Abbs Head. At first we thought we had woken up in Gannet City as these birds were everywhere for the next two hours. The first highlight came shortly after passing the Farne Islands when two White-beaked Dolphins surfaced immediately in front of the ship at a distance of no more than 20m, affording almost aerial views of them from the bridge.

After an excellent lunch, we saw the first of a total of 3 Balearic Shearwaters that we were privileged to observe as well as a Sooty Shearwater. Throughout the day we had a number of excellent sightings of Great Skua, usually harassing some poor Gannet.

Great Skua 3

As the ship was due to leave Zeebrugge at 09:30 on Saturday morning, there was no time to explore the city, but instead we caught up on data entry, had another large breakfast and joined the Captain and his officers as they manoeuvred the ship out of the port.

The return journey was undertaken on an almost flat sea and with uninterrupted sunshine. Shortly after leaving port we were treated to a flock of Common Scoter flying past accompanied by a solitary male Common Eider. In addition to more Great Skua, we added a couple of Arctic Skua as well as large numbers of Guillemot and Fulmar and a Harbour Porpoise feeding amongst diving Gannets.

The ship arrived in Rosyth just as dawn broke behind the iconic Forth Rail Bridge and we would like to thank Captain Gintaras Kucinskas and his friendly crew for a thoroughly enjoyable and productive survey. 

John Perry and Dorota Cieslikiewicz, Research Surveyors for MARINElife