MARINElife Training Survey Report: Condor Ferries Liberation Poole-Jersey 21 August 2018

Stephen Boswell, Judith Tatem, Kimberly Roll-Baldwin

Weather: Partially cloudy with fog patches in mid-Channel and full sun on the Channel Islands, wind southwest, sea state 2

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3

Seabirds
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 9
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 23
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 169
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 8
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 4
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 15
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 139
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 47
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 5

We met at the Condor Ferries terminal and had a few minutes to look through the recording paperwork. Boarding was called and we were soon through the gate and on the short bus trip to the Liberation, our survey vessel. The ship departed ahead of schedule and Brownsea Island soon slipped past. Once we were clear of the harbour and out of the red zone we were escorted to the bridge where we were welcomed by Captain Stephen Crow.

Judith Tatem and Kim Roll-Baldwin surveying Steve Boswell
Judith and Kim surveying (Steve Boswell)

Training began with an introduction to the ship's instruments and our first records of the voyage. The clouds started to clear and the sea state was almost perfect for cetacean watching.  From the bridge we could see the MARINElife Wildlife Officer, Christine Arnold, hard at work on the upper deck. About an hour out of port a bank of fog appeared and for a short while the visibility deteriorated. Fortune, however, was with us as we cleared the fog before reaching the Alderney race and our first sighting of a Balearic Shearwater. Shortly after this we sighted a mixed group of 19 shearwaters including thirteen Balearic.  It was good to see them with Manx Shearwater to be able to study the differences between the two.

As we sailed along the Jersey coast the Captain spotted a pod of six dolphins which unfortunately for us were seen on the port side. The Island of Jersey was bathed in sunshine, so we were delighted to be able to sit outside the crew mess whilst eating our lunch. On both legs of the journey between Guernsey and Jersey there was a bloom of Moon Jellyfish slipping past the ship.

Harbour Porpoise Martin Kitching 01
Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Martin Kitching)

As we approached Ortac it was shimmering white in the sunshine and there were lots of Gannets streaming back to their nests with food for their young. Shortly after this three Harbour Porpoise passed by down the starboard side with four Herring Gull in attendance. We then sailed back through the fog bank only to pop out for a gloriously sunny evening's return through Poole Harbour.

Thanks to Condor Ferries and the crew of the Condor Liberation for their welcome and assistance during the crossing.