The team joined Brittany Ferries' Armorique on Sunday evening in Plymouth in perfect weather. As we departed, warm air and calm seas allowed us to watch from the deck in t-shirts. Once it got dark, we headed inside to get to know our fellow team members.
In the morning, we were approaching Roscoff when we woke. Daylight times meant that we didn't survey on the first leg, so we started our day, sipping coffee and learning how to use Logger, an electronic data collection software that runs off a Microsoft Surface tablet. It's the first year that this has been used on distance sampling surveys carried out by ORCA from the bridge of ferries, and the first time that it has been used on this route.
Once docked, we had a few hours to explore Roscoff in the rain. We initially explored together, until we split up, with activities including visiting the local botanical gardens, wandering the coast, or sampling the local coffee and crepes.
Back on the ship, we began our survey soon after departing and were welcomed onto the bridge by a very friendly and accomodating crew. The rain followed us out to sea, and mist further limited visibility. After awhile, the rain eased, but the mist stayed with us until we neared Plymouth. Despite limited visibility, it was a comfortable crossing, with sea states peaking at Beaufort 3, and even getting down to mirror calm sea state 0! The survey was quiet in the way of cetaceans, but we were kept company by dozens of gannets, shearwaters feeding in the wake of fishing vessels, and guillemots. On our approach to Plymouth, visibility improved, and allowed us to see two harbour porpoise.
Despite seeing few cetaceans, we had a great survey with calm seas, a wonderful crew, and an efficient and friendly team. Thank you as always to Brittany ferries for accomodating us.
James Robbins, Andy Osborn, Paul Bamford, Mike Sprague