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Portsmouth-Jersey survey 14 August

We were warmly welcomed on board by the crew of the Commodore Clipper and soon after we set sail from Portsmouth, we were able to have a quick breakfast and view of the new aircraft carriers HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth II before entering the Bridge and introduce ourselves to Captain Justin Horsey and his crew. As we were preparing to start the survey, we were able to view the Horse Sand and Solent forts located in the middle of the Solent.

The voyage from Portsmouth to the Alderney Race was smooth but the sightings of birds and mammals were infrequent; nevertheless Gannet, Manx Shearwater and the occasional tern were observed as was a pod of four Common Dolphins which provided us with good views.

As we approached and entered the Alderney Race more birds were observed including Gannet and Manx Shearwater as well as Balearic Shearwater, Fulmar and auk sp. and petrel sp. Approaching Guernsey, we additionally observed Shag, Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gull.

The weather further deteriorated during the voyage from Guernsey to Jersey with visibility falling and the rain continuing to fall onto the bridge windows making observation difficult. Nevertheless, further sightings of Gannet, ‘Commic’ Tern, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull and Herring Gull were recorded.

We concluded the survey as we entered St Helier Harbour on Jersey and were able to have a very agreeable and convivial supper on board. We noted that we had not seen any identifiable Guillemot or Razorbill with only one auk sp. being identified on the voyage. We speculated that this could have been caused by avian flu but it appears from previous surveys that numbers were low on these too so it could just be the route.

The journey back to Portsmouth was undertaken overnight and we were able to have breakfast as we were approaching Portsmouth Harbour. On leaving the ship we were able to thank the crew for their help and set off on our respective journeys home.

Jenny Ball and Chris Hilder, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)


Wind SSW 4-5 up to 7 at times, cloudy with occ. light rain, visibility moderate-poor

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 4


Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus 10

Commic Tern Sterna hirundo/paradisaea 8

Common Tern Sterna hirundo 20

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 56

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 4

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 10

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 334

Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 9

Petrel sp. 5

Gull sp. 1

Auk sp. 1

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