Diedeirk D'Hert and Jozefien Decoene: Research Surveyors for
Outward: NE-SE force 2-3 Return: SE-NW, force 2-3
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 5
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 13
Common Seal Phoca vitulina 2
Unidentified Seal sp. 3
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 22
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 66
Gannet Morus bassanus 621
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Common Gull Larus canus 9
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 11
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 17
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 225
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 27
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea 2
Puffin Fratercula arctica 161
Guillemot Uria aalge 711
Razorbill Alca torda 92
Unidentified Auk sp. 35
Unidentified Large gull sp. 1
Blackbird Turdus merula 3
Robin Erithacus rubecula 1
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 2
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 1
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis 18
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarelli 3
We boarded the Finlandia Seaways at 21:00 and left the harbour at midnight. Observations started the next morning at dawn, when we were well out in open sea. We were happy with the sightings of Puffin, as we don't see them very often from the Belgian coast. Unexpectedly, we also saw terrestrial birds such as Blackbird, Wheatear and Meadow Pipit. A couple of Arctic Terns passed close to the ship giving us good views. We expected to see quite a large number of birds around Bass Rock however, although many birds were obviously nesting on the island, relatively few were present in the sea around the island itself. Despite the good light conditions, the slight chop made it difficult to detect any Porpoises, nevertheless, 5 were recorded.
During the first hours of the second day of the trip, we still had moderate visibility. The sea was much calmer than the previous day and we recorded good numbers of Puffin and Guillemot during the first part of the trip.
Although the sea was almost mirror calm - in theory making it ideal for Porpoise spotting - a dense fog turned up after a few hours which reduced visibility to less than 200 metres and stayed with us for the rest of the trip. Even the RAF-helicopter, hovering over the vessel to perform a safety drill, was hardly visible.
Our thanks go to the Captain and crew of the Finlandia Seaways who made this a very enjoyable crossing and thanks to DFDS for their continued support of MARINElife's work.
Diedeirk D'Hert and Jozefien Decoene: Research Surveyors for MARINElife