27 OCTOBER 2019: ENGLISH CHANNEL – SEA STATE 2 GOOD VISIBILITY.
The weather forecast was reasonable for the outward journey but the winds were forecast to increase for the return leg. Clocks had gone back the night before so we wouldn’t have a very long first watch. We got up to the bridge for 5.15 p.m. but the light was fading fast and we only managed to get in 30 minutes before the light was too bad for surveying. However, we did get one sighting of common dolphins bow-riding in that time. Pont Aven was doing a straight return trip to Santander and going slower as it was only running on 3 engines. So with good conditions forecast for the following day we hoped for good surveying conditions in the morning.
28 OCTOBER 2019: BISCAY - SEA STATE 3 GOOD VISIBILITY.
The day started with increased swell and sea state but it calmed through the morning. It was sunny with glare most of the watch. We were already over halfway across the bay, level with Bordeaux, in the deep waters. We had 3 sightings, an unidentified whale, some distant common and some striped dolphins.
28 OCTOBER 2019: BISCAY RETURN
We didn’t board for the return trip until 4.30 p.m. Unfortunately, it was already too dark to survey by the time the ship was clear of Santander.
29 OCTOBER 2019: BISCAY RETURN – SEA STATE 5 - 8 moderate VISIBILITY.
At 6.30 am we were south of the Iles d’Ouessant but sea conditions and visibility were not good. Before going to the bridge we had seen goldfinch, robins and an unidentified warbler on the deck outside reception. Once on the bridge there were several birds on passage mostly thrushes, redwing, fieldfare, redstart. The conditions worsened as we passed the islands and turned to the north-east with wind speeds touching Beaufort 8 on occasion. We only managed to survey for 2 hours before retreating to the cafeteria but in that time we did have sightings of bottlenose and common dolphins. The weather continued to deteriorate with walls of water hitting the bow windows in the cafeteria.
Our thanks as always go to Brittany Ferries, Captain Alexandre Noël and his crew.
Bottlenose Dolphin 5
Common Dolphin 10
Striped Dolphin 1
Unidentified Whale 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Survey team members
Philip Dutt, Graham Wild, Tony Chenery, Stephen Hedley