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Ilfracombe-Lundy WLO report 7 May

Summary of sightings:


Common Dolphin 9

Bottlenose Dolphin 5

Harbour Porpoise 1


Herring Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull








Manx Shearwater

We left Ilfracombe harbour in glorious sunshine and a gentle breeze; with a sea state of 1. I was very optimistic of some cetacean sightings in these ideal conditions. We did pass through a fog bank but soon emerged into warm sunshine again.

Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Walking around the decks I found that a lot of the passengers were on their first trip to Lundy, some on a day trip and others staying over for a few days or a week. All were enjoying the crossing in warm sunshine and keen to explore Lundy and hopefully see Puffins. There was also a party of the Lundy Field Society volunteers, setting off for a weeks hands on maintenance work and whatever is required to be done.

With so little wind available the sea birds were low in numbers, a couple of Gannet and Kittiwake but a few chocolate brown Guillemot paddled by with an occasional black and white Razorbill. A single Puffin was spotted by someone to complete the Lundy auk species list at sea. Little groups of the delightful Common Dolphin arrived to ride the bow wave or play in the wake. They then departed as quickly as they arrived, but I think most people had the chance to see at least one group.

Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The highlight for me occurred just over halfway towards Lundy Island, on the port side about 800m off. A group of Manx shearwater were feeding and below them 5 or 6 Bottlenose dolphin were feasting on the same fish.

Reaching Lundy some people joined the organised Puffin spotters walk to Jenny’s Cove, while others headed off to the Marisco Tavern as a first stop. I decided to have a swim, the water was crystal clear, and I came across a beautiful comb jelly. Much smaller than common jelly fish (no relation) they look like small oval sacs of jelly. They swim by beating rows of cilia which diffract the light to produce a shimmering, rainbow effect which is quite beautiful to watch.

Fog bank flowing over Lundy (Maggie Gamble)

As we boarded the Oldenburg to return to Ilfracombe a sea fog rolled over Lundy and followed us out to sea. Consequently the return back to Ilfracombe was very quiet with no sightings until we reached the mainland and various gulls and Gannet became visible again.

Maggie Gamble MARINElife WLO

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