MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 30 June 2015

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Moderate north-northeasterly winds, sea state 2-4 sunny.

Summary of sightings

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 46
Gannet Morus bassanus 294
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 51
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 20
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 13
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2
Guillemot Uria aalge 5
Shearwater sp. 3

I arrived at Portsmouth shortly before 5pm and was taken to the Commodore Goodwill by the Condor Ferries staff. Once on board, Captain Roger Thomson welcomed me to the ship and I made arrangements with him to join the officers on the bridge at dawn the following morning. The ship sailed shortly after 7.30pm and I watched the sun set over the Isle of Wight before retiring to bed.

Sunrise the following morning was just after 5.00 a.m. By that time the ship was midway between Guernsey and Jersey. As the day brightened I began recording Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull. Later a group of 20 Manx Shearwater were seen gliding across the sea in front of the ship, each looking for food to take back home to their growing offspring. I left the bridge as the ship neared Elizabeth Castle and went downstairs for an excellent breakfast whilst the ship was docked.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 04b

Gannet (Photo by Carol Farmer-Wright)

On the return journey as the ship rounded Corbiere a fishing vessel appeared accompanied by more than 100 Gannet that were taking advantage of fishermen cleaning their catch. Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull were also seen around the Jersey coast together with the occasional Manx Shearwater and Cormorant. As we left Jersey behind, the number of Gannet steadily increased as we neared Alderney. A brief glimpse of three Mediterranean Gull broke the continued Gannet sightings that began to tail off as the ship travelled further into the English Channel.

Whilst on board I spoke with officers Andy and Gerard. They told me that they had seen a whale in mid-Channel less than a week earlier, from the description it sounded like a Humpback Whale. Sadly for me the whale was not to be seen on this survey.

As the ship approached the Isle of Wight a solitary Fulmar was seen, the only one recorded this trip. I left the bridge as we approached Culver Cliff and thanked Captain Thomson, his officers and crew for a very enjoyable survey.

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife