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Heysham-Warrenpoint survey report 7-8 July

Weather:

Outbound: Sunny, wind S force 2-3, sea state 1-2

Homeward: Overcast, wind NW force 2-4, sea state 1-2


Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 11

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 8


Seabirds:

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 4

Gannet Morus bassanus 77

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 914

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 8

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 16

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 54

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 65

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis 2

Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 3

Guillemot Uria aalge 511

Razorbill Alca torda 5

Gull sp. 4

Tern sp. 2

Auk sp. 1


This was my second MARINElife survey of the week, having just completed the Felixstowe- Vlaardingen at the beginning of the week. This, strangely, repeated what I had done in March 2020 just before the COVID lockdown, and the weather conditions seemed to be like then with calm seas and little wind.


On the way across to Warrenpoint, there were lots of young Guillemot sitting around on the sea surface with their dads, as well as some large groups of Manx Shearwater.

Guillemot and chick (Library photo: Rob Petley-Jones)

On the return there seemed to be a dividing line just as you reached the Isle of Man. Up to this line there were lots of Manx Shearwater and Guillemot to be seen, but after it there were pretty much none, with just a few seen flying around.


There even appeared to be a line in the sea where the conditions went from sea state 1 to 2, which suggested to me this may be the invisible border in the Irish Sea as a result of Brexit? (Editor’s note: Probably not, just due to the nature of the Irish Sea, Interesting thought, though! Incidentally, the area between the Isle of Man and Dublin is a major feeding area for many seabirds nesting around the Irish Sea.)


As is normal at Warrenpoint a few Black Guillemot were seen as we left the port, though it appeared there were not as many as on previous trips.

Black Guillemot (Robin Langdon)

A couple of Harbour Porpoise and a Grey Seal were seen on the outward journey even though the spotting conditions were good. On the return journey the captain pointed out the first of the Harbour Porpoise just at the entrance to Carlingford Lough, and he said that these were normally to be seen around there.


There were a group of Grey Seal on one of the small islands just outside the Lough near the lighthouse, while five more Harbour Porpoise were seen on the return journey.


Thanks to the Captain and crews of the Precession and the Performance for keeping me fed and watered, and to Seatruck for the renewed opportunity to carry out MARINElife wildlife surveys across the Irish Sea.

Robin Langdon; Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884)

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