Sightings Archives: April 2013

MARINElife Survey Report: Rosyth-Zeebrugge "Finlandia Seaways" 11 - 12 April 2013

Posted 18 April 2013

Diedeirk D'Hert and Jozefien Decoene: Research Surveyors for MARINElife
Outward: NE-SE force 2-3  Return: SE-NW, force 2-3

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 5
Grey Seal  Halichoerus grypus 13
Common Seal  Phoca vitulina 2
Unidentified Seal sp. 3 

Red-throated Diver  Gavia stellata  22
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 66
Gannet  Morus bassanus 621
Shag  Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Common Gull  Larus canus 9
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 11
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 17
Kittiwake  Rissa tridactyla 225
Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis 27
Arctic Tern  Sterna paradisaea 2
Puffin  Fratercula arctica 161
Guillemot  Uria aalge 711
Razorbill  Alca torda 92
Unidentified Auk sp. 35
Unidentified Large gull sp. 1

Terrestrial Birds
Blackbird Turdus merula  3
Robin Erithacus rubecula 1
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 2
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 18
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarelli 3

Wheatear by PHWe boarded the Finlandia Seaways at 21:00 and left the harbour at midnight. Observations started the next morning at dawn, when we were well out in open sea. We were happy with the sightings of Puffin, as we don't see them very often from the Belgian coast. Unexpectedly, we also saw terrestrial birds such as Blackbird, Wheatear and Meadow Pipit. A couple of Arctic Terns passed close to the ship giving us good views. We expected to see quite a large number of birds around Bass Rock however, although many birds were obviously nesting on the island, relatively few were present in the sea around the island itself. Despite the good light conditions, the slight chop made it difficult to detect any Porpoises, nevertheless, 5 were recorded.

During the first hours of the second day of the trip, we still had moderate visibility. The sea was much calmer than the previous day and we recorded good numbers of Puffin and Guillemot during the first part of the trip.

Gannet 03/13Although the sea was almost mirror calm ­- in theory making it ideal for Porpoise spotting - a dense fog turned up after a few hours which reduced visibility to less than 200 metres and stayed with us for the rest of the trip. Even the RAF-helicopter, hovering over the vessel to perform a safety drill, was hardly visible.

Our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Finlandia Seaways who made this a very enjoyable crossing and thanks to DFDS for their continued support of MARINElife's work.

Diedeirk D'Hert and Jozefien Decoene: Research Surveyors for MARINElife