MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Goodwill’ Portsmouth-Jersey 15 May 2019

Helen Swift and Mary Ferry, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Dry, good-very good visibility (11-20 km), sea state 2-3, variable glare.

Summary of sightings:

Seabirds
'Commic' Tern Sterna hirundo/Sterna paradisaea 6
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 7
Gannet Morus bassanus 113
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 16
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 9
Unidentified Shearwater sp.  6
Unidentified Larus Gull sp. Larus 8

Terrestrial birds
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 1
Swallow Hirundo rustica 7
Swift Apus apus 2

This trip started at 19:30 on Tuesday in a sunny evening with a stiff breeze as we headed out to Jersey, arriving 04:00 on Wednesday 15th.

The survey proper started at 06:00 on a sunny balmy day, slightly hazy with a smooth sea, brilliant for a first-time trainee.  We headed out of the harbour with a guard of honour of Cormorant, Shag and Herring Gull and arrived at Guernsey for a one-hour turnaround then off again to Portsmouth.

cormorant Adrian Shephard 03a
Cormorant (Library photo: Adrian Shephard)

Despite the calm conditions, no seals, porpoises or dolphins were identified on this trip. However, we had plenty of birdlife, from Swift and Swallow making their way home to nest for the summer plus Gannet, mainly in singles but we had a few groups including juveniles. The star of the show was a solitary adult Gannet who decided to accompany us at the bridge as we entered Southampton sound, something of a regular according to the crew.

Gannet Carol Farmer-Wright 01a
Gannet (Library photo: Carol Farmer-Wright)

As we crossed the Channel shipping lanes we spotted a broken slick of white 'granules', split up as the ships follow their routes into many 'streams' like a fringe skirt, which we've since found out is probably an algal bloom and is turning up in estuaries around the south coast of the UK.

Our thanks to Captain Pielich and the crew of the Commodore Goodwill for making us welcome and looking after us throughout the survey.