MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries (Commodore Goodwill) Portsmouth-Jersey (23rd – 24th August 2016)

David Doxford; Research Surveyor for MARINElife

Weather: Light north-westerly winds, slight seas and a <1m swell. A slight heat haze built up through the day which reduced the visibility to 11-12km by the afternoon.  Cloud cover was 25-50% and mainly high and thin.

Species Recorded

Marine Mammals
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 31
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1
Gannet Morus bassanus 33
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 12
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 34
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 9
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2
Larus sp 25

We left Portsmouth on time at 7:30pm allowing a short survey period before sunset.  Captain Roger Thomson welcomed me to the bridge and I admired the deft ship-handling necessary to thread through the large number of recreational craft criss-crossing the Solent.  I then took to my cabin as we ploughed southwards through the night.

Sunset_David Doxford

Sunset (David Doxford)

The next morning saw us departing Jersey on a bright and sunny day with almost perfect conditions for surveying. Just after we passed Elizabeth Castle there was a large splash off the port bow.  The bridge crew then helped me spot a group of five Bottlenose Dolphin which appeared from three different directions.  They enjoyed a brief bow ride before departing as quickly as they had come.

Interestingly one of them was distinctly spotted in appearance. They also boasted a juvenile amongst their number - always good to see as it shows that they are thriving and able to breed.

BND Adrian Shephard 04

Bottlenose Dolphin (Archive Photo: Adrian Shephard)

This turned out to be the hottest day of the year and I was pleased that the Commodore Goodwill had an open bridge wing so that I could 'take the breeze' whilst surveying.

Bird sightings peaked in the Alderney Race - this is a kind of Gannet M4 with busy groups of birds flying East-West between their fishing grounds off the French coast and their colony on Les Etacs.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 07

Gannet (Archive Photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

North of the Race there were very few sightings until we approached the Isle of Wight where the usual assemblage of gulls greeted us.

As we neared our destination a Spitfire flew low over the ship before peeling off to head east along the coast.  An unusual addition to the log!

I concluded the survey off Gunwharf Quay and thanked the Captain and his staff for their hospitality before heading ashore.

David Doxford, Research Surveyors for MARINElife