Survey Reports

2018-07-07 - Dover–Calais

Survey details

Survey route: Dover–Calais

Company: DFDS

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2018-07-07

Number of nights: Day sailing

^ A library image of a harbour porpoise

A team of three ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyors met at Dover Passenger Ferry Terminal on the 7th of July 2018. The morning was bright and sunny and the good conditions were to last the whole trip.  This was great news for all surveyors, especially as this was the first ever survey for one team member.


This route is unavailable to foot passengers, so we started with a new experience… driving on board the ship. The staff were fantastic and the experience much easier than expected. This also meant we were first on board and able to make our way to the bridge before the Cote Des Flandres departed Dover.


We were warmly welcomed onto the bridge, with the crew keen to find out what we may see. Once the ship made its way outside the harbour we began surveying, although the sea state was only a one with no swell, the light was very bright with the addition of some sea mist, making things a little trickier. On the outbound transect we encountered a variety of birds, including black-backed gull, herring gull and black-headed gull, with lots of cormorants feeding on the approach into Calais. There was also an abundance of cuttlefish bones floating on the surface of the water throughout the trip, although no cetaceans were sighted at this time.


After a quick refreshment we were back on the bridge ready for the return survey to Dover. This time the survey started off with lots of bird activity, including close-up views of a Great Skua! The survey continued for almost an hour with no sightings… until finally the silence was broken with a flurry of activity… two harbour porpoise ahead of the ship, then four more including a calf to the port side, another one to starboard and finally another group of three harbour porpoises to the port side. The conditions made for perfect views of these (usually) shy mammals, with one individual almost appearing to come towards the ship!


An unforgettable end to a great survey and a good lesson in how valuable logger can be during busy periods of activity.


A special thank you to the Captain and crew of the Cote Des Flandres for making the ORCA team feel very welcome, and DFDS for their continued support in making these surveys possible.


Survey team members

Hannah Ramsey-Smith, Leanne Cox and Leonora Davies