Survey Reports

2019-08-24 - Penzance-St Marys

Survey details

Survey route: Penzance-St Marys

Company: Isles of Scilly Travel

Sea region: Celtic Seas

Survey start date: 2019-08-24

Number of nights: Day sailing

ORCA team

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

Upon boarding the Scillonian III in Penzance the sun was shining, the sea state was 2 and hope was high for an enjoyable and productive survey.

The outward journey heralded a spectacular display of cory’s and manx shearwaters, with many hundreds of birds feeding on both sides of the ship. However despite intense scanning, we could not find any associated cetaceans. The first and only cetaceans on the outward leg came in the form of 5 harbour porpoise which surfaced briefly close to the ship as we entered St Mary’s. 

The team enjoyed a relaxing lunch at the beach on St Marys before setting out expectantly for the return journey. 

When leaving the harbour 2 grey seals were noted. 30 minutes later a common dolphin which surfaced briefly off Starboard.This was followed 20 minutes later by an unidentified dolphin and shortly after this 4 harbour porpoise both feeding in the vicinity of diving gannets. 

Not long afterwards we were pleased to sight a basking shark, having been informed by the crew that very few had been observed this or either of the previous 2 seasons. 

Shearwaters were much less evident on the return leg, but we did have good views of Manx shearwaters close to the vessel as we approached Penzance. Moreover two more groups of common dolphin  5 in total were encountered. These were by now causing excitement among many passengers, some of which were taking an interest in our survey and drawing attention to the the dolphins’ presence. Our final sighting, close to shore was 1 harbour porpoise. A pleasant end to a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Thank you to the team for all their hard work.

Many thanks to Captain Peter Crawford and his crew for welcoming us and for their assistance on this survey.

Cetaceans Seen:

Harbour porpoise x 12

Common dolphin x 6

Unidentified dolphin x 1

Pinnipeds Seen:

Grey seals x 2


Basking shark x 1

Birds Seen:

Cory’s shearwater, great shearwater, manx shearwater, guillemot, scoter, cormorant, herring gull, gannet, fulmar, herring gull, greater black backed gull, black headed gull, kittiwake

Survey team members

Tony Chenery, Andy Anderson, Chris Brown