2018-10-31 - Penzance-St Marys
Weather conditions: Cloudy with light to moderate winds, sea state mainly 3 occasionally 4, swell mainly moderate.
Unusually for a survey on the Scillonian this survey took place on a Wednesday. Isles of Scilly Travel had kindly allowed us to take advantage of a weather window and organize this survey at short notice.
The survey team boarded the Scillonian on what would turn out to be the final ORCA Scillonian survey of the season. It was very quiet onboard with less than 70 passengers. Surveying started as soon as we had left Penzance Harbour. All was quiet as we proceeded along the Cornish coast. Once we had cleared Land’s End the sea became a little confused, with a one to two metre swell from the west and a reasonable chop from the south east, giving the Scillonian an unusual but not uncomfortable motion.
Just under two hours out, the first and only sighting was called. A pod of 7 common dolphins were seen ahead and they passed close to the ship down the starboard side. They made no apparent attempt to close with the ship. Everybody on the bridge saw them.
Due to the shortening daylight hours the Scillonian was scheduled to leave the islands over two hours earlier than usual, which gave us a little over an hour ashore. There was just time for lunch and a walk around town before returning to the ship.
The weather for the afternoon was forecast as heavy showers so there was no surprise that it started to rain as surveying commenced. Luckily the shower only lasted for about a quarter of an hour before the Scillonian popped out ahead of the weather and remained in a dry weather slot with the rain following us all the way back.
The return journey was very quiet with no sightings until we were approaching Penzance when a single common dolphin which, breached a number of times.
The survey team disembarked having had a very enjoyable day. Many thanks to Isles of Scilly Travel for hosting us throughout the season and particularly Captain Dave Redman and his crew for their assistance and for making us extremely welcome on this survey.
Total sightings: 2 sightings consisting of 8 individual animals.
Common dolphin x 8 (2 sightings)
Bird species seen: Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Great White Egret, Eider Duck, Great Skua, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Puffin.
Survey team members
David Williams, Tom Hardman, Chris Whitell