Survey Reports

2019-06-03 - Plymouth-Roscoff

Survey details

Survey route: Plymouth-Roscoff

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-06-03

Number of nights: 1

An enthusiastic survey team met in Plymouth for the crossing to Roscoff. Daylight hours didn’t allow us to survey on the way in to Roscoff, so we spent a few hours exploring the town and bonding as a team. We were using Logger, the electronic data collection method which is being rolled out onto several survey routes, and several team members hadn't used this before. Once back on the ship, we had a quick training exercise in the use of Logger, and were invited to the bridge by a friendly crew. 

The survey started off a little bumpy, with a heavy to moderate swell until we reached the middle of the channel. Conditions were a little challenging, with sea states of beaufort 3 for much of the survey, and glare on the port side. Despite these conditions which decrease the likelihood of spotting cetaceans, the team kept their spirits up, and new surveyors spotted unidentified small cetaceans and unidentified dolphins. In addition to these few cetaceans, we were kept company by numerous gannets and manx shearwaters throughout the crossing.

Survey team members

James Robbins, Alison Couch, Neil Best, Sam Attwater

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2019-07-07 - Plymouth-Roscoff

Survey details

Survey route: Plymouth-Roscoff

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-07-07

Number of nights: 1

^ Bottlenose dolphins

7th July 2019: English Channel 

The ORCA survey team met at the Brittany Ferries Terminal. We embarked on time at 22.00 and as we left  Plymouth the light was just fading. The overnight crossing was calm.

8th July 2019: Approaching Roscoff

We were on deck shortly after 5am, first light, we were presented with a mirror sea state and within a few minutes our first sighting of common dolphins. Shortly after this however fog rapidly closed in and stayed until we arrived in Roscoff. 

8th July 2019: Roscoff  

Following disembarkation we walked into town in sunshine. After breakfast the team split up to explore both the Ilse of Batz and Roscoff Botanic Gardens.

8th July 2019: English Channel Sea State 1-2 good visibility

We boarded the Amorique in bright sunshine and departed Roscoff early in the afternoon. The team's hope was high for a productive survey . This proved to be the case and we were treated to sightings of common dolphins, as well as one sighting of two bottlenose dolphins swimming close to the bow.

The sea state remained a constant 2 and visibility 18km throughout much of the afternoon. Common dolphin sightings were varied in nature, including some feeding dolphins acompanied by gannets. Only one calf was noted. Other wildlife included two sunfish, and some schools of small fish visible just below the surface.                                     

In total the ORCA team had a total of 15 sightings consisting of: 

Common Dolphins x62

Bottlenose Dolphins x2

Unidentifed dolphin x1 (incidental)

Sun Fish 2

Birds:  Gannet, Baleric shearwaters, Manx shearwaters, great skua,  Puffin, Razorbill,  Cormorant, Herring gull, Greater black backed gull, Black headed gull, Lesser black backed and Yellow legged gull, Common tern.   

Little egret, Starling, Backbird, Mistle thrush, Linnet, Black cap, Wren, Great tit, Wood pigeon, Peregrine, Carrion crow, Jackdoor, House sparrow.

Thanks as always to Brittany Ferries, the Captain and crew of the Armorique.

Survey team members

Tony Chenery, David Williams, Jackie Shaw, Lynn Watts

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2019-05-05 - Plymouth-Roscoff

Survey details

Survey route: Plymouth-Roscoff

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-05-05

Number of nights: 1

With another late sailing of 23:30, for this survey aboard the Armorique, the ORCA survey team headed straight to bed to be up bright and early to survey. There was a beautiful sunrise as we disembarked in Roscoff.  After a quick stop in Roscoff we set sail and spotted a small pod of common dolphins as we pulled out of the port of Roscoff before starting our survey.

We were greeted by the Captain and officers on the bridge who told us of the 3 humpback whales they had seen the previous Saturday off the coast of Cork.

The highest sea state during this survey was 2! Even that sea state 2 was only for a short period of time. We had what can only be described as perfect surveying conditions. Sea state 1, absent swell, clear to the horizon and no glare! It was incredible.

Our common dolphins were quickly followed by a single unidentified small cetacean. Following this start we had a couple of hours of no cetacean sightings, we did however, spot gannets, guillemots & a great skua. Around 2 and half hours into the survey just about halfway across the channel, we spotted our next sighting. Light grey and looking like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards a pod of 4 Risso's dolphins slowly swam across the bow of the Armorique. These were also spotted by the officer of the watch who was interested to find out what species they were.

Another hour passed after the beautiful Rissos dolphins before any more sightings. With just an hour left before arriving in Plymouth 1 unidentified dolphin was spotted, followed quickly by a pair then a trio of Harbour porpoise and the final sighting of the survey 12 common dolphins completely ignoring the ship as we approached the coast.

We ended the survey with a total of 26 cetaceans over 7 sightings.

Thank you to the survey team for your hard work and enthusiasm.

Many thanks to the Captain and his officers and crew of the Armorique and to Brittany Ferries for making this survey possible.

Cetaceans

  • Common dolphins x 15
  • Harbour porpoise x 5
  •  Risso's dolphins x 4
  • Unidentified dolphin x 1
  • Small cetacean x 1

Birds 

Gannets, Great Skua, Guillemots, Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed gull, Kittiwake, unidentified flock of passerines

Survey team members

Kerry Heseltine, Emily Davies, Casey-Jo Zammit, Charlotte Kitchner

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