Survey Reports

2019-09-15 - Penzance-St Marys

Survey details

Survey route: Penzance-St Marys

Company: Isles of Scilly Travel

Sea region: Celtic Seas

Survey start date: 2019-09-15

Number of nights: Day sailing

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A


The Team met in Penzance early and boarded Scillonian III. This was, unusually, a Sunday, and consequently the ferry was quite quiet, being end of season and no longer school holidays and also not a regular changeover day for holidaymakers. This left us plenty of time for a coffee and a chat before heading up to the Bridge where we were greeted by Captain Pete and his crew.

Conditions were good both for visibility and sea state and we felt hopeful for lots of exciting sightings, however the first 45 minutes passed without any, but gave us time to practice our surveying skills and settle in.   We then had our first sighting of 3 common dolphins, followed a few minutes later by a splash – was it a dolphin? No, we thought it more likely a large tuna, followed just a couple of minutes later by a gathering of gannets feeding directly in front of us but at some distance. We watched in anticipation as we came closer and sure enough, there were dolphins feeding amongst them and off to the side, more dolphins swimming to join the frenzy. Apparently lots of fish about! The remainder of the outward journey produced a group of 3 more common dolphins and another probable tuna fish.

We spent a pleasant but chilly few hours ashore. 

Our return journey was quieter. Conditions were still good and we mostly recorded a sea state of 2, just touching 3 for a short while on our return. Visibility was also good, although there was a haze hanging over Cornwall as we approached Land’s End and fairly heavy cloud made it seem rather gloomy for the last hour or so.

We left St Marys by the shorter route past the Eastern Isles and as ever we were on the lookout for the seals that are often spotted there.Just one seen in the water on this occasion!

The rest of the journey produced just an incidental sighting of a possible pair of common dolphins spotted by a passenger, and a couple more splashy breaching tuna – it was certainly the day of the tuna fish!   As we approached Penzance an enormous barrel jellyfish was spotted – then another, and in the end there were four or five individuals to round off our trip.

We would like to thank Captain Pete and his enthusiastic crew for allowing us on their bridge and making us so welcome.  


5 x Common Dolphin (24 animals, including 1 incidental sighting of 2 dolphins)

1 x Grey Seal (1 animal)

4 x Tuna fish

5 Barrel Jellyfish

Birds spotted at sea and on Scilly:

Gannet, great black backed gull, herring gull, manx shearwater, guillemot, black headed gull, shag, fulmar, oystercatcher, house sparrow, starling and swallow

Survey team members

Jackie Shaw, Maggie Gamble, Jillie Dale