Plymouth-Roscoff

2019-10-06 - Plymouth-Roscoff

Survey details

Survey route: Plymouth-Roscoff

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-10-06

Number of nights: 1

The team met inside the port building at Plymouth keen to set off on our last survey of the season. It was dark when we boarded so we settled ourselves into our cabins and enjoyed a night of being rocked like babies in the cradle by the considerable swell in the Western English Channel!  Again, it was too dark to do an early watch, but the ship’s alarm gently woke us at 6.00 am ready for an early arrival in Roscoff.

We disembarked and sploshed into town on foot in the pouring rain and were fairly soaked through by the time we arrived at a café for petit dejeuner. Much time was spend here this morning, keeping out of the wet, but it did ease enough for us to explore on foot around the town and out along the walkway over the water where we spotted a few oyster catchers, herring gulls, great black backed gulls, cormorant and a little egret.

We re-boarded Armorique and after clearing the port were allowed onto the Bridge. The weather was not ideal, varying between mist and fog with a sea state that was quite hard to determine with very wavy conditions obscuring the swell but was mostly around a State 4.

The first couple of hours passed uneventfully but gained us all practice with recording our Effort Sheets. There were occasional single gannets and a single bumble bee was spotted! Then the fog closed in so that the visibility was non-existent so we came off effort and took a break whilst the foghorn blasted regularly!

Then, after a further half an hour the fog lifted enough for us to take up our positions again and the Sea State, now a 3, had improved quite a lot. The choppy waves that we had been experiencing had reduced so that the swell was more evident, coming at us at right angles from Port side so that we were rolling from side to side but hardly pitching front to back at all.  A few birds were spotted gathering on the Port side, rather distant, but this gave us some hope and, sure enough, within minutes we had our first sighting, a small group of common dolphins, including two calves, swimming fast towards us before diving under the bow in the direction that the birds had been spotted. This was followed by another two similar sightings. By now we were beginning to lose the light, the misty and cloudy weather with intermittent rain not helping, however, on the plus side, we were not bothered by any glare on this trip!  Just before coming off effort, there were two quite large splashes, close to the ship, on the starboard side. No body was seen so no identification was possible, but we thought this was probably a large fish but will never know for certain!

We would like to thank the Captain and Crew of Armorique for allowing us onto their Bridge and for making us so welcome, and also the Team who worked well together and supported one another, not just with our surveying skills, but in a way that was sensitive to the needs of one another, making the trip a happy one.

Sighting:

3 x Common Dolphins (13 animals)

1 x unidentified something!

Birds seen at sea and ashore: Gannet, oyster catcher, little egret, great black backed gull, herring gull and cormorant. 

Survey team members

Jackie Shaw (TL) Charlie Moffat, Hayley McLennan, Hannah Parkinson

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2019-08-05 - Plymouth-Roscoff

Survey details

Survey route: Plymouth-Roscoff

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-08-05

Number of nights: 1

After meeting in Plymouth terminal we boarded the Armorique and introduced ourselves to the reception crew. 

Due to the arrival time in Roscoff, we were unable to survey in the morning, so we left the ship in the drizzle and found there was a tourist bus which does a circular tour of Roscoff in the summer holidays so we joined it and after about 20 minutes had enjoyed good views of the town.

Departing the bus in the town centre we then enjoyed a breakfast, before the sun came out and we were able to walk around the town before having lunch and a stroll back to the ship.

The captain allowed us up to the bridge about 20 minutes after sailing and after greeting the bridge crew we started our survey with a sea state of 3 but minimal swell.

After about 45 minutes diving gannets alerted us to a couple of feeding dolphins, (most likely bottlenose). Birds were infrequently seen on this survey and as the sea state increased to 4, splashes close to the ship heralded our final sighting of a couple of harbour porpoise

This route is normally good for common dolphins but on this occasion unfortunately, they were not encountered. 

However, everybody enjoyed the survey and all felt much more confident with the survey protocol so hopefully the team will be much luckier on future surveys. Many thanks to the team for their hard work and company.

Grateful thanks also to Brittany Ferries and to the captain and crew of the Armorique for this wonderful opportunity.

Marine Mammals Seen:

2 Unidentified dolphins

2 Harbour porpoise

Birds Seen:

Fulmar, manx shearwater, grey heron, little egret, gannet, cormorant, oystercatcher, turnstone, great black-backed gull, herring gull. lesser black-backed gull, great skua, rock dove, woodpigeon, collared dove, swift, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, swallow, house Martin, wren, starling, blackbird, robin, house sparrow, rock pipit and linnet.

Survey team members

Mary Hill,Simon Griffiths, Steve Chastell,Sarah Kahlbaum

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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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