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Portsmouth-Jersey survey 9 March

This survey route usually includes a brief stop in Guernsey, but on this occasion, we sailed direct to Jersey though at a reduced speed, which we hoped would allow us some extended views of any wildlife we might encounter. The officers on the bridge of the Commodore Clipper reported having seen dolphins over the last few days along the south side of Jersey and we felt hopeful of some sightings towards the end of the survey. In the event the only cetaceans we saw were a pod of five Common Dolphin crossing the bow as we passed east of Sark, though we had a good view of them rushing through the waves.

Common Dolphin (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

We started our survey as we passed Sandown on the Isle of Wight, in overcast conditions but with good visibility. An early highlight was a line of 40 Brent Geese flying north but otherwise sightings were few and far between, with the occasional Gannet, Guillemot, and Kittiwake to keep us keen.

The sea state throughout most of the survey was comfortable with little swell and few whitecaps, and as we came to the Alderney Race the conditions flattened with eddies and whirlpools becoming evident on the surface of the sea.  Things would have been very different with the wind opposing the tide, so we were grateful for the benign conditions.

Guillemot (Library photo: Peter Howlett)

The afternoon passed by quietly, with a few Guillemot and the occasional gull being seen, and we ended the survey as we turned in towards the berth at St Helier at 16:25. The ship was not due to leave for Guernsey until around 19:00 by which time it would be dark, so there was no further opportunity for surveying on this trip. We are very grateful to Captain Wroe and the crew of the Commodore Clipper, who went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable on board.

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

Weather: E 5 veering to SE 5, good visibility, apart from two hours of intermittent rain showers during the afternoon.

Summary of sightings:

Marine Mammals

Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 5



Brent Goose Branta bernicla 40

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1

Gannet Morus bassanus 10

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 2

Guillemot Uria aalge 19

Herring Gull Larus argentatus 6

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 2

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 5

Razorbill Alca torda 1

Shag Gulosus aristotelis  1

Scoter sp. 1

Auk sp. 1


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