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Newcastle-Amsterdam survey 3-5 June

This was only the second MARINElife survey on this route and the first on DFDS King Seaways, where we were given a very warm welcome aboard by all the crew. Shortly after the ship left the River Tyne, we were able to go up onto the bridge and meet Captain Andreas Schou Kristensen and were shown the instrumentation that we would be using.

Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Early in the voyage Kittiwake were the dominant bird, presumably from the colony in the city centre.  About an hour out we had a brief view of four Bottlenose Dolphin swimming in a very tight pod. There were regular sightings of Gannet and small groups of Guillemot. Later in the evening long strings of Razorbill passed by. We continued surveying until sunset.

The following morning, we did a short two-hour survey, the visibility was poor and there were very few birds.  We were, however, delighted to see one Great Shearwater, a very unusual and unseasonal sighting for the North Sea.

Great Shearwater (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Whilst the ship was docking in the port of Ijmuiden, we had a good opportunity to study the large group of Lesser Black-backed Gull which were feeding around the disturbed water.

We caught the ferry bus into Amsterdam Central railway station and had around four hours to explore that part of city. Coffee and cake with a view seemed a good start to get our bearings, so we headed to the roof plaza on the Nemo Science Museum. Even on a dull day the view was good.  Afterwards we walked around the canals and streets looking at the architecture and admiring how use is made of every possible space for plants of all different types. Many of the canal barges had green roofs or were completely covered in pots. These gardens were spreading onto adjacent pavements. We enjoyed lunch sitting outside of a café on the canal side, watching a young Coot family swimming around.

Back on the ferry the weather cut the evening survey short, as we soon started to lose visibility and had to stop when it started to rain. The final part of the survey was from around 6.00am until we arrived at the mouth of the River Tyne. It was a bright and breezy morning with lots of birds and a very brief glimpse of two dolphin tails. Just before passing the breakwater, we thanked the Captain and crew for all of their help and support and left the bridge. 

Jenny Ball and Judith Tatem, Research Surveyors for MARINElife Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)



3rd June pm: SW wind F3-5, full sun, good visibility

4th June am: SSW wind F4, overcast, no swell


4th June pm: SW wind F6-7, overcast with deteriorating visibility

5th June am: W wind F6-7, full sun


Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 4

Unidentified Dolphin sp. 2



Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 25

Gannet Morus bassanus 67

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2

Great Shearwater Ardenna gravis 1

Guillemot Uria aalge 147

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 59

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 179

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 21

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 5

Puffin Fratercula arctica 5

Razorbill Alca torda 220

Shearwater sp. 1

Gull sp. 12

Auk sp. 195

Tern sp. 1

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