MARINElife blog: DFDS Finlandia Seaways Rosyth-Zeebrugge 12-13 September 2014

John Perry and Allan Carpenter, Research Surveyors for MARINElife

Weather: Mainly cloudy, wind moderate 4 predominantly from the SE on the outward journey, a little stronger and from the NE on return.

Summary of sightings:


Common Dolphin  Delphinus delphis 3
White-beaked Dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris 3
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 6
Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata 1
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3
Unidentified dolphin  1


Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 271
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 7
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 161
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 14
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 1
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 15
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 1
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 4
Common Gull Larus canus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 5
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 8
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 102
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 12
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 5
Puffin Fratercula arctica 4
Guillemot Uria aalge  96

Terrestrial Birds:

Osprey Pandion haliaetus 2
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1

We were welcomed aboard the 'Finlandia Seaways' by the crew and shown to our cabins where we had a very peaceful night as the ship sailed through Scottish waters.

Minke Mike Bailey 01

Minke Whale, Archive photo by Mike Bailey

After a hearty breakfast, we were welcomed to the bridge by Captain Gintaras Kučinskas and began the survey at 07:15. The sea was flat calm and although visibility was a little reduced by sea mist, we had excellent viewing conditions and almost our first sightings were four Manx Shearwater and a Pomarine Skua passing below the bow of the ship.

The first highlight came after passing the Farne Isles when five Harbour Porpoise surfaced some 100 metres in front of the ship.  Shortly after this we had a frenzy of activity with a Minke Whale, three White-beaked Dolphin and three Common Dolphin all giving excellent views. There was also an unidentified dolphin at some distance out.

After an excellent lunch, we saw an increasing number of Fulmar and Kittiwake with occasional sightings of Great Skua, Arctic Skua, and a solitary Sooty Shearwater. Throughout the day we had good numbers of Gannet and Guillemot.

WB Dolphin James Phillips 02

White-beaked Dolphin, Archive Photo by Mike Bailey

After dinner, we caught up with the day's sightings and managed to enter quite a lot of the data before retiring for a well-earned night's sleep.

The return journey was once again undertaken on an almost flat sea. Two migrating Osprey were seen flying over Zeebrugge port as the ship prepared to depart and once out in the open sea we encountered a group of eight Great Skua leisurely migrating to the southeast. We particularly enjoyed the views we had of Little Gull as we sailed homewards.

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 Allan Carpenter, Research Surveyors for MARINElife