Survey Reports

2019-09-08 - Penzance-St Marys

Survey details

Survey route: Penzance-St Marys

Company: Isles of Scilly Travel

Sea region: Celtic Seas

Survey start date: 2019-09-08

Number of nights: Day sailing

Saturday 8th September 2019 Isles of Scilly


We had fantastic conditions for this trip, sea state 2 and a very light swell. We were all eager to get going and we weren’t disappointed. Within 15 minutes we had our first sighting. In the distance we saw splashing and birds diving and it soon became clear that we were on to DOLPHINS, a pod of 7 common dolphins were feeding on the starboard side. Shortly after seeing this pod, we realised we had more coming upon the port side and again on the starboard side, a further 16 animals. In five minutes, we had counted 23 animals!


As we entered the deeper waters of the Channel the sightings slowed down until we heard an excited commotion at the rear of the vessel where a Minke whale decided to surface, showing itself to the lucky guests at the back of the boat.


After chatting to the crew, we knew Risso’s dolphins had been seen in the area and with the beautiful islands approaching in the distance, we knew we still had time and a good chance of some great sightings. Shortly after 11am we had some large distant splashes; all we could see was 2 large grey bodies erupting vertically out of the water and splashing back down. Were these the Risso’s we’d been hoping for? Within 5 minutes this happened again but this time we had 3 big splashes!!! We looked and looked but unfortunately this was all we saw of these animals. Just before we reached the islands, we had the final sighting of our outbound journey, a small pod of dolphins.


 We had a lovely few hours on St Mary’s, looking at birds and enjoying our lunch. The afternoon flew by and before we knew it, it was time to get back on board.


 As we were leaving the islands behind, we passed by an outcrop of rocks, on these rocks were at least 15 Atlantic grey seals hauled out. It was amazing to see and I only wish I had a better camera to capture it!!! At the same time, we had our first sightings of harbour porpoise. Two near to the vessel and shortly after 7 more all swimming together, behaviour I had never seen before. After about an hour of no sightings we were finally graced with some more dolphins and shortly after, as we were passing the beautiful Tater du lighthouse, we had another small pod of harbour porpoise.


We all had a great day and were chuffed with all the sightings. As always, a big thank you to the crew and staff on the Scillonian for being so accommodating and helpful.


Bird List:


Black headed gull, great black backed gull, herring gull, kitttiwake, guillimot, manx shearwater, fulmer, sandwich tern, shag, gannet and Artic skuar.

Survey team members

Cheryl Yarham Tony Chenery Mike Smith