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Portsmouth-Jersey survey 11 May

This was the first time we had undertaken a survey on the Islander, which is the newest addition to the Condor Ferries fleet and has undergone a complete refurbishment to a high standard. So, although it is similar in size to the Commodore Clipper, it was interesting to discover the differences in design and layout. We were welcomed onboard by the friendly staff of the hospitality team and after leaving our luggage in our cabins, we enjoyed breakfast in the Courtyard Brasserie.

Then we were escorted up to the bridge, where we commenced our survey just before the Nab Tower. The sea was calm, but visibility was reduced slightly due to a sea mist obscuring the horizon. However, conditions were still good enough to enable us to spot fins should they appear during our survey.

Mediterranean Gull (Library photo: Rick Morris)

Just after taking the first effort readings, a Mediterranean Gull flew across the bow, shortly followed by several Herring Gull as we passed the Isle of Wight. But after that, bird sightings stopped for quite a while.

Then a commotion at the other side of the bridge interrupted our scanning of the sea and we were surprised to see that a pigeon had flown in and was quite happily sitting on the shelf. As the stowaway was wearing a ring, it was probably a racing pigeon having a rest.

Over the next hour there were sporadic sightings - Gannet, gull, Shag and an Arctic Skua. Then a squadron of seven Gannet flying right across the bow, with another four flying the opposite way but again after that sightings were scarce.

Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Rick Morris)

However, after passing Alderney, there was a sudden splash close to the port side and a Bottlenose Dolphin was seen sub-surface, shortly followed by another splash swimming behind it. There was no time to grab cameras as they quickly disappeared under the bow.

Then, as we were getting nearer to Guernsey and Sark, a group of eight Common Dolphin were spotted approaching the bow on the starboard side, shortly followed by a small group of four more. Once again, as they were so quick, there was no time to take photos, but it was exciting to see them.

Common Dolphin (Library photo: Rick Morris)

As we were approaching Guernsey, we saw the cruise ship Renaissance moored just outside of St Peter Port. We stopped just outside the harbour and watched another of the Condor Ferries fleet, the Voyager, leaving the port and departing on its way to St Malo.

Whilst docked in Guernsey, we spent the time on deck in the sun before returning to the bridge to continue the survey on to Jersey. Although the sea haze had lifted, there was only a handful of bird sightings, and no further cetaceans were seen.

As we approached Jersey, we ended the survey, packed up our survey equipment and thanked the Captain and his crew before leaving the bridge.  After enjoying a delicious evening meal in the Courtyard Brasserie, we returned to our cabins for the overnight crossing back to Portsmouth.

Our thanks go to the support of Condor Ferries and Captain Rad Zelazny and his crew on the Condor Islander, who made this an enjoyable crossing.

Rick Morris and Glynis Northwood-Long, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Outward only - Sunny becoming overcast. Wind: E to ENE force 2-4 Sea state 2-4

Summary of Sightings:

Marine Mammals

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 2

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 12


Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 35

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4

Guillemot Uria aalge 1

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 9

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1

Shag Gulosus aristotelis 5

Gull sp. 6

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