Survey Reports

2019-03-24 - Plymouth-Roscoff

Survey details

Survey route: Plymouth-Roscoff

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-03-24

Number of nights: 1

24 MARCH 2019: English Channel  

The ORCA survey team met at the Plymouth Ferry Port and shortly afterwards we all embarked onto the Brittany Ferries Armorique. This was the first ORCA survey for some of the team, so before settling down for the night we went through the survey protocol ready for the following day. Due to daylight times we were unable to start surveying before our arrival into Roscoff. Our evening crossing was calm and after a good night’s sleep we awoke to sun and bright blue skies.

25 MARCH 2019: Roscoff

Once berthed in Roscoff we had a few hours to explore the delights Roscoff had to offer. We took a leisurely stroll into town and walked along the seafront where we saw several bird species including herring gulls, great black-backed gulls, little egrets, oyster catchers, brent geese and a pair of shellducks . We also visited the Church of Notre Dame de Croaz-Batz, a Catholic Church constructed in granite, with Gothic and Renaissance style architecture.   

 25 MARCH 2019: English Channel - Sea State 3 with Good Visibility

Once back on board we were up on deck and surveying within 30 minutes of departure. The sea state was a 3 with a moderate swell. With the Sun shining and blue skies all around, the team were hopeful we would get some great sightings. We were kept company by gannets, manx shearwater’s and great skua’s before we eventually had our first sighting of nine common dolphins including two calves swimming fast towards the ship.

Over the next hour the sea state reduced to a 2 with a light swell. Shortly afterwards splashes on port side alerted us to a pod of twenty-two common dolphins heading towards the ship. We only had to wait a further five minutes before sighting was called on starboard side, thirty-one common dolphins headed straight towards the ship with a few of the dolphins bow riding the ship. 

Delighted by our sightings so far, twenty minutes passed and splashes in the distance alerted us to another pod of twenty-eight common dolphins. Over the next hour the team were kept busy with more sightings of common dolphins (forty-four including four calves). On the approach into Plymouth we were hoping to spot the pod of bottlenose dolphins the bridge crew saw only a couple of days ago but it just wasn’t meant to be. 

I would like to thank the whole team for their enthusiasm and great company. Also a big thank you to Brittany Ferries for their continued support and to Captain Fournis, his officers and crew for making us feel so welcome.

Total Sightings: 

Cetaceans Seen:

Common dolphins: 133 (incl. 20 calves) 

Unidentified dolphins: 2 

Birds at sea:

Gannet, manx shearwater, great skua, great black-backed gull, guillemot, razorbill

Birds seen in Roscoff:

Little egret, rock pipit, oystercatcher (40+), brent geese (80+), shellduck, great black-backed gull, herring gull, robin, jackdaw, pigeon.

Survey team members

Cassie Auld, Victoria Tooland, Christoper Whitell and Adam Blundell