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Portsmouth-Jersey survey 8 June

This was a survey of two halves: a very quiet sail down past the Isle of Wight to Guernsey, and then a much more eventful section between Guernsey and Jersey. During the first three hours I saw more terrestrial birds than sea birds - four pigeons flew by as if they had a race to win, and I was told later by the Officer on watch that the previous day the ship had carried a whole container of racing pigeons to the Channel Islands! Seabirds were represented by a Herring Gull and a Guillemot, slim pickings indeed!


The crew of the Condor Islander were very welcoming, and keen to share their recent sightings of large numbers of dolphins, currently very active between the islands. Sure enough, we spotted two separate groups of Bottlenose Dolphin on the approach to Jersey, with the Captain making sure I’d seen them!

Bottlenose Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The first group was quite distant to start with and seemed to be feeding (a lot of thrashing and difficult to see how many animals there were). They soon swam towards the ship, and it was clear that there were four dolphins, off to find another meal. The second group was moving at a leisurely pace, again towards the ship so I had a great view of the six Bottlenose Dolphins disappearing below the ship.


On the bird front things picked up as we left Guernsey, with a number of Gannet, including a very dark bird, which was most likely a late bird from last year. Fulmar, Manx Shearwater and the usual array of Guillemot and gulls rounded out the species seen.


Another fantastic aerial performer was a Spitfire, looping the loop in the gorgeous evening sky, and reminding me that this week we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings. I found out later that, for just a few days, Spitfire trips are available over Jersey, at £3500 for 30 minutes!

Manx Shearwater (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

During the afternoon we heard radioed reports of a semi-submerged whale carcass off the northwest coast of Jersey, near the route of the Condor Voyager. I noted its general position and later on when we passed over roughly the same area there was a tight group of mixed gulls, very focussed on whatever was amongst them. I couldn’t see anything above the surface, but this may have been the remains of the carcass - I do wonder what species of whale it was (if indeed it was a whale).


It was a pleasure to be on board the Condor Islander, with Captain Marc Rolie and his crew, both on the bridge and in the passenger area, interested in MARINElife’s work and more than helpful during my survey.

Jenny Ball, Research Surveyor for MARINElife Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)



Wind SW 5 and overcast, brightening up as the day went on, but with good visibility throughout. The day ended with clear blue skies and a force 3 WNW wind. 


Summary of sightings:

Marine Animals

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 10



Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 2

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4

Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3

Gannet  Morus bassanus 17

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1

Guillemot Uria aalge 7

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 14

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 33

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 9

Shag Gulosus aristotelis 1

Gull sp. 20


Terrestrial birds

Racing Pigeon Columba livia 4

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