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Newhaven-Dieppe survey 11 February

The very changeable weather meant that I was greeted by a rainbow as I arrived at Newhaven just after sunrise.  I took this as a positive sign for the crossing.

Shortly after boarding, I was warmly welcomed on the bridge by the crew. A new crew member was keen to know more about the survey and it was great to see the enthusiasm for wildlife that I know is often present in the crews I meet. 

Gannet (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

Initial sightings of birds included Gannet and Herring Gull as well as several auk species that were a little too far away to clearly identify. The weather continued to change frequently, and the intermittent rain and sunshine brought more rainbows. Lesser Black-backed Gull sightings happened a little further into the crossing as well as a small flock of Razorbill resting on the water.

With eyes focused on a busy sky, it can be easy to miss animals close to as they appear immediately below you. Fortunately, I did not miss two Harbour Porpoise surfacing very close to the ship and then slowly moving away. Very soon after, I spotted another dorsal fin, and a single Harbour Porpoise appeared a little further away from the ship very briefly.

Harbour Porpoise (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

On arrival at Dieppe, the forecasted poor weather held off giving me an opportunity to walk into town and across the new swing bridge that has been installed over the winter. On my return to the ship, I was again welcomed on the bridge and prepared for the shorter return survey due to the approach of sunset.

The sightings included Gannet and the first Black-headed Gull of the day as well as two large groups of auk species flying across in front of the ship. There was also a large group of Gannet and gulls appearing to search and feed over a patch of water. As this can sometimes indicate cetaceans being present, I scanned the surface of the water, but nothing was visible.

As the sunset and the light was no longer sufficient to survey, I thanked the captain and crew and returned to the passenger area to complete the rest of the crossing.

Mandy Bright, Research Surveyor for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Outward – wind NE, cloud, rain, and sunshine

Return – wind NE, cloudy, good visibility

Summary of sightings

Marine Mammals

Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena 3


Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 13

Gannet Morus bassanus 143

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 16

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 10

Razorbill Alca torda 13

Diver sp. 5

Gull sp. 29

Auk sp. 71

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