MARINElife Survey Report: DFDS Seaways ‘Finlandia Seaways’ Rosyth-Zeebrugge 28-29 April 2016

Vincent Green, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)

Weather: Wind S-SW, sea state 0-6

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 2 (prob)

Seabirds
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata 1
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena 1
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus 1
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 3
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 39
Gannet Morus bassanus 1477
Great Skua Stercorarius skua 2
Greater Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2068
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus 2
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 16
Common Tern Sterna hirundo 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 278
Puffin Fratercula arctica 2
Razorbill Alca torda 19
Duck Sp. 35

Gull sp. 68
Tern sp. 22

Terrestrial birds
Racing Pigeon Columba livia 1

What an excellent trip! After a nice drive up to Rosyth and enjoying the view of the famous Forth bridges I checked in and settled on the DFDS Finlandia Seaways ship, an evening meal awaited me and then a comfy cabin and bed.

A good night's sleep was needed as I was up at 530 am to start the first leg of the survey. A long day ahead but with unexpected results.

Sooty Shearwater Peter Howlett 03
Sooty Shearwater (Archive photo: Peter Howlett)

On the bridge I was greeted as usual by the Captain and his crew, I settled into the survey with great sightings of various seabirds, including, Gannet, Guillemot, Fulmar, some skuas and shearwaters and even a pigeon or two that hitched a ride home on the back of the ship. Kittiwake versus Gannet seemed to be the scene, with Kittiwakes heading north in big numbers and winning the battle of the birds.

Having surveyed most of the day I still hadn't sighted anything in the sea that resembled a cetacean, however, I still felt optimistic as we approached the southern part of the North Sea. My optimism paid off, within an hour, elegantly swimming past on the starboard side of the ship, were two, what I presumed to be, possible Bottlenose Dolphins which really took my attention. Not so long after I came across at least three of the biggest jellyfish I'd seen ever, and then a Harbour Porpoise to top it off.

Harbour Porpoise Peter Howlett 09
Harbour Porpoise (Archive photo Peter Howlett)

As the sunset over Bligh Hill not too far out from the Belgium coast the night ended successfully with around 30 plus ducks away in the distance ahead of the ship heading into the sunset towards England.

After a good night's sleep and some excellent Lithuanian food I went back up to the bridge for the day to record many different species of birds across the North Sea in calm conditions, including Puffin and Razorbill.

An exciting return back into Scotland passing the wonderful engineering of the bridges and some lovely islets and the treat af many Gannet on Bass rock.

A very good and successful trip with many thanks to Captain Andrej, the crew and DFDS.