Survey Reports

2019-10-05 - Dover–Calais

Survey details

Survey route: Dover–Calais

Company: DFDS

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-10-05

Number of nights: Day sailing

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

The survey team arrived at the Port of Dover with plenty of time to spare, allowing ample time to go over the use of the electronic recording system ‘Logger’ for survey members who were new to this recording method.


After driving onto the DFDS ferry ‘MS Côte des Flandres’, the team were warmly greeted by reception and immediately invited up to the Bridge to await departure. We were greeted by the Captain and his Bridge crew and soon departed the harbour walls ready to survey. The English Channel presented a calm sea state 3, with few white caps visible, and the swell varying between slight and moderate around the 1-metre mark, increasing more as we ventured out into the middle of Europe’s busiest shipping lane.

Within 5 minutes of surveying on effort, the rapid roll of a harbour porpoise was sighted on the starboard side, less then 50 metres from the ship, giving a clear view of the lone animal. It was then briefly spotted surfacing again as it passed the ship. Among the birds seen on the outbound journey were gannets, greater black backed gulls and kittiwakes.

After a 30-minute observer rotation, over half-way through the Channel, the sea state calmed to a 2 on the Beaufort scale. With Calais now in a sight ahead, a fleeting glimpse of an unidentified seal was recorded on the port side before it swiftly dove below the surface. Approaching Calais, a quick harbour porpoise was seen on the port side, around 100 metres from the vessel.

After steering to port to follow the sandy Calais coastline another seal was spotted, this time it was a grey seal which was nose up, bottling towards the shore. Masses of small blue-coloured barrel jellyfish swarmed both sides of the vesel, quickly disappearing under the bow. Herring gulls, cormorants and a lone female mallard duck were present on the arrival into Calais harbour, ending watch 1 for the team to have a quick lunch on the Bridge before getting ready for watch 2.


On the return leg, the sea state had improved further and the swell had lowered to very slight. Whilst more bird species including an Arctic tern, a line of unidentified geese and a Manx shearwater were seen, no more marine mammals were sighted, despite the team’s eagerness and improved conditions.

We would like to express our thanks to the Captain and crew of the ‘MS Côte des Flandres’ for inviting us on board to collect this all-important monitoring data. We all appreciate the Bridge crew for asking us about what data we collect and what is done with it as we hope to survey again with you again soon.


Harbour Porpoise x 2

Unidentified Seal x 1

Grey Seal x 1

Bird List: 

Gannet, greater black backed gull, kittiwake, cormorant, herring gull, mallard duck, common guillemot, black headed gull, Arctic tern, line of unidentified geese species and manx shearwater

Barrel jellyfish (dozens of blue immature ones)

Survey team members

Ruth Coxon, Andrew Boulton, Grace Johnson