MARINElife blog: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Jersey-Portsmouth 19 May 2017

Carol Farmer-Wright; Research Surveyor for MARINElife
Sea state 2-4, Winds W to SW force 4-5.  Weather dry and sunny with good visibility

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise  Phocoena phocoena 2

Seabirds
Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis 6
Manx Shearwater  Puffinus puffinus 4
Gannet  Morus bassanus 205
Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo 7
Herring Gull  Larus argentatus 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 8
Guillemot  Uria aalge 6

It was cloudy as I travelled down to Portsmouth for the monthly survey. I was taken to the Commodore Goodwill by the friendly Condor Ferries staff and enjoyed a lovely dinner before heading to my cabin for the overnight crossing to Jersey.

Elizabeth Castle_Carol Farmer Wright

Elizabeth Castle (Carol Farmer-Wright)

I awoke to a clear and sunny day, had breakfast whilst we were docked in St. Helier and was then invited by Captain Pielich to make my way to the bridge to prepare for the survey. He advised me that a couple of cetaceans had been seen the previous day off Bembridge on the approach to Portsmouth Harbour.  I hoped that they still may be around when we returned to Portsmouth that afternoon.We waited in harbour until the Condor Rapide berthed and headed west towards Corbiere lighthouse. Sightings were slow and steady with a few Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gull. More Cormorant rested on the rocks around the coast taking in the early morning sun.As we headed towards the Cherbourg peninsular I started recording groups of Gannet flying in formation across our path, either leaving to forage or returning to the Gannetry's located on Les Etacs and Ortac rock to the west of Alderney.

Condor Rapide

Condor Rapide (Carol Farmer-Wright)

After lunch I resumed surveying as we entered the shipping lanes. In addition to Gannet, I was delighted to see four Manx Shearwater flying low across the waves and recorded a couple of Fulmar and an occasional Guillemot as we approached the Isle of Wight.

The highlight of the day occurred as we approached Ventnor. A large aggregation of 25 or more Gannet were seen circling and feeding relatively close to the shore. Ten minutes after this 2 Harbour Porpoise were recorded close to the ship, swimming slowly as we passed.

I left the bridge as we approached the busy shipping area of the Solent and prepared to leave the Commodore Goodwill.

My thanks go to Captain Wojciech Pielich, his officers and crew for making me feel so welcome aboard the Commodore Goodwill and the shore crew at Portsmouth for taking care of me whilst negotiating the port area.

Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife