With the weather conditions looking pretty good for the outward leg, the team met with great anticipation for their survey on board the DFDS Princess Seaways. This was the first ORCA survey for two members of the team providing a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the survey protocol and hopefully see some marine life along the way!
The team were met by the lovely Isle at reception and once past the breakwaters were escorted to the bridge and welcomed by Captain Jesper Bern. Despite rain affecting visibility, the sea state was 2-3 with minimal swell for the duration of the evening. Harbour porpoise were spotted almost immediately, and continued to be recorded until the light faded. In total the team had 10 sightings consisting of 11 harbour porpoises, a brief sighting of an inquisitive grey seal and a probable whale. Birdlife was also prolific, including rafts of guillemots, razorbills, gannets, fulmars and kittiwakes keeping the team on their toes and increasing their ID skills.
The next morning, the team were on the bridge bright and early and with a sea state of 3-4, the harbour porpoise sightings continued, with another three sightings before the ship docked in Ijmuiden. The team spent a lovely sunny, but windy, few hours in Amsterdam, before heading up to the bridge for the evening. Unfortunately, the windy conditions weren’t restricted to Amsterdam, with a sea state 5-6 and moderate swell. Visibility was affected by rain showers and the watch was eventually abandoned when the weather closed in and the visibility reduced to 250 m. However, despite the conditions, the team still managed a brief sighting of a grey seal close to the ship before calling it a day.
The final morning dawned bright and sunny but windy, with sea state 4-5 for the majority of the watch. However, despite the challenging conditions, three porpoise, two grey seals and a possible Minke whale were observed, along with numerous seabirds. A great end to the survey. The team would like to thank Captain Jesper Bern and the bridge officers for welcoming us onto the bridge and extend our thanks to all the DFDS staff for their kind support during our time onboard the Princess.
Marine Mammals Seen:
Harbour porpoise x 17
Grey seal x 3
Whale/possible Minke whale x 2
Birds at Sea: Gannet, kittiwake, guillemot, razorbill, fulmar, great skua, lesser black-backed gull, cormorant, common tern, herring gull, pigeon, manx shearwater, puffin
Birds on Land: Egyptian geese (plus goslings!), grey heron, mallard, jackdaw, crow, black-headed gull, parakeet, coot, great crested grebe, mute swan.
Rebecca Walker, Paula Booth, Katie Pavid, Callum Mair