MARINElife Survey Report: Condor Ferries ‘Commodore Clipper’ Portsmouth-Jersey 15 January 2020

Glynis Northwood-Long and Carol Farmer-Wright, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Slight rain then overcast with sunny spells in the afternoon, good visibility, sea state 2-5, WSW winds force 3 rising to 7 and then back to force 4.

Summary of sightings

Auk sp. 1
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 2
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 6

Although we usually sail on the Commodore Goodwill for the Portsmouth-Jersey surveys, Condor Ferries Environmental Officer suggested that we trial a survey on the Commodore Clipper. Because this would be surveying on the outbound journey, I suggested to Carol that we did this survey together to assess the differences for both the survey and on-board.

Storm Brendan forced us to postpone the sailing for 24 hours, so Carol and I met at Portsmouth Ferry Terminal early on the morning of the 15th. We were greeted by the friendly Condor Ferries check-in staff and, because there were only a few foot passengers, we were taken to the Clipper in one of their vehicles. Once on-board, we made ourselves known at the Information Desk and we were informed that we would have plenty of time to have breakfast before going onto the bridge. So after leaving our luggage in our cabin, we had a substantial breakfast in the Brasserie.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Glynis NorthwoodLong
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Glynis Northwood-Long)

Passing through Portsmouth Harbour, we saw HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier moored in the Naval Dockyard, being fitted out alongside her sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Once we had passed Nab Tower and allowed onto the bridge, we familiarised ourselves with the location of the ship's instruments that we would need to refer to on the Clipper and commenced our survey.

Seabird sightings were scarce, perhaps as a result of Storm Brendan they were resting and gathering their strength for the next front coming through. We did, however, see one surprised Guillemot desperately trying to outrun the Clipper, before diving under the bow. Unfortunately we did not see any cetaceans either although Carol did see what might have been a fin but was unable to identify it.

Carol surveying Glynis NorthwoodLong
Carol surveying (Glynis Northwood-Long)

We closed the survey as the sun set in St. Peter Port. After a relaxed evening meal on the onward journey to Jersey, we retired to our cabin. Following a peaceful night's sleep, we were up early for breakfast before arriving back into Portsmouth.

We would like to thank Captain Alan Luff and his crew for their hospitality and Condor Ferries for their support of our surveys.