Heysham-Warrenpoint survey report 11-12 August
Seatruck Performance and Precision
Summary of Species Recorded
Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 6
Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 17
Unidentified Cetacean sp. 3
Unidentified Seal sp. 3
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 17
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 235
Gannet Morus bassanus 106
Common Gull Larus canus 2
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 58
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 8
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 10
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 47
‘Commic’ Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 1
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 4
Guillemot Uria aalge 376
Gull sp. 7
Tern sp. 1
Auk sp. 20
Outward: sea state 1; no cloud; excellent visibility other than some evening glare; barely any wind.
Return: sea state 1-4/5 (notably calmer once the Isle of Man gained); mostly reasonably good visibility; wind NE force 2-4.
Harbour Porpoise were seen several times against the almost perfect outward conditions, giving clear views of not just the very triangular fin but the dark tight-arching body as well. Particularly interesting and useful was to see a group of acrobatic Bottlenose Dolphin revealing less usual flank colourations, some not unlike a greatly subdued Common Dolphin patterning, which was new to us.
On both crossings there were excellent views of seabirds - one very smart young Kittiwake enjoying some close-circling of the ship, crisp-plumaged Manx Shearwater wing-tipping the water, occasional diving Gannet and Sandwich Tern, and many pairs of Guillemot fathers with their young charges.
Frequent amongst the long bright green strands of algae and ochre seaweed clumps were Compass Jellyfish and also the very striking Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. Far less welcome in the flotsam were a number of glittering plastic balloons, noted near the coasts of the Isle of Man and Ireland.
Despite the drought, the Emerald Isle looked quite green as we approached. On a stroll later that evening we were amazed by the enormity of the tangerine harvest moon perched just above the bay!
Next morning, we kept a lookout for Finn, Carlingford Lough’s resident Bottlenose Dolphin, but only managed to spot him on departure when he was approached far too closely by three zigzagging, water-splicing, jet skis which dominated the already busy Lough! By great contrast was the slow steady course of the schooner ‘Grace O’Malley’ as she approached to take part in the Warrenpoint Loughside Festival being held at the weekend.
The smooth success of both voyages was facilitated by very helpful Seatruck port staff and crew. As well as lifts to and from the ships we were even picked up from our accommodation in Warrenpoint, and well fed on board. We are very grateful to Captain Kacper and Captain Idrek for allowing this important survey work to continue.
Maggie Gamble and Mary Wood, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)