Survey Reports

2019-07-19 - Poole–Cherbourg

Survey details

Survey route: Poole–Cherbourg

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-07-19

Number of nights: Day sailing

Juvenile Gannet

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

After an early start and a warm welcome on board the survey team awaited departure from Poole, waiting in the café and being tempted by the smell of French pastries filling the air.


After being escorted up to the Bridge, the team got to work taking up their positions as they had discussed. Coming out of Poole Harbour, cormorants, tern species and black headed gulls were seen. The voyage out into the channel provided a good training opportunity for the newest surveyors amongst the team, who were busy keeping up with the changes in sea state, swell and presence of rain. In fact, a highlight of the trip for a particular survey member was being instructed and thereafter permitted by the crew to turn the knobs on the control panel to initiate the windscreen wipers for a clearer view.

Within the shelter of the bay, the sea state started at a 1 and quickly diminished to a sea state 4 as we headed out. The swell picked up slightly too. However, on the way out of Poole, one of the team spotted a couple of barrel jellyfish, their large barrel-shaped bodies easily distinguishing them from other jellyfish.

Within half an hour of leaving port the visibility was greatly reduced to a close 1km or thereabouts, tantalisingly increasing and decreasing again over the next hour. During our dance with the rain, a skua species was seen (possibly a great skua or bonxie), as well as a flock of little egrets and flock of small waders, expanding our bird list nicely.  

Sea state and visibility improved for a time (sea sate 3 and 10km) but greatly reduced about 45 mins prior to arriving in Cherbourg. On approach into port the visibility improved, and we could finally see France ahead. After leaving the Bridge, the team watched from the port side. The crew went through their docking procedure and we watched the herring gulls foraging and cormorants relaxing on rocks.


Due to a reduced turnaround time, the team had permission to stay onboard the ship in which to get a bite to eat before surveying again. Once back up on the bridge we were initially faced with similar conditions as before, with a sea state 3 presenting itself, but the wind being behind us increased our speed a little. Soon later the swell picked up a fair bit and then the fog came in. It kept closing in so that we were almost unable to continue surveying effectively, but it would then open up again minutes later. After observing a very patchy fog-lingering sea, unfortunately no marine mammals were sighted on this occasion. It was possible that at times, the conditions hindered our detection of them. But as we are always reminded, no sightings is still good data.

Despite our lack of mammals, other species were seen including a shoal of fish below a blanket of seaweed and also a blue jellyfish. Overall, the team enjoyed their experience on board the Barfleur and therefore we would like to thank the captain and his crew for welcoming us on board and showing us their hospitality. We look forward to sailing again soon. Thank you to ORCA also and the rest of the team for their time and dedication, I hope we all meet again soon. 


Cormorant, shag, gannet, little egret, wader species (flock), herring gull, great black backed gull, black headed gull, skua species, tern species, shelduck, Egyptian geese and crow.

Other animals:

  • Barrel jellyfish, blue jellyfish and unidentified shoal of fish


Survey team members

Ruth Coxon, Moira Gainey, Mark Evans, Sarah Evans