2019-05-05 - Plymouth-Roscoff

Survey details

Survey route: Plymouth-Roscoff

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2019-05-05

Number of nights: 1

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

With another late sailing of 23:30, for this survey aboard the Armorique, the ORCA survey team headed straight to bed to be up bright and early to survey. There was a beautiful sunrise as we disembarked in Roscoff. Current sailing times meant that we had a grand total of 1 hour, to disembark, and re-embark the Armorique. After explaining to customs & immigration officers why we were only spending an hour in Roscoff we re-embarked the ship, set sail and spotted a small pod of common dolphins as we pulled out of the port of Roscoff before starting our survey.

We were greeted by the Captain and officers on the bridge who told us of the 3 Humpback Whales they had seen the previous Saturday off the coast of Cork.

The highest sea state during this survey was 2! Even that sea state 2 was only for a short period of time. We had what can only be described as perfect surveying conditions. Sea state 1, absent swell, clear to the horizon and no glare! It was incredible.

Our common dolphins were quickly followed by a single unidentified small cetacean. Following this start we had a couple of hours of no cetacean sightings, we did however, spot gannets, guillemots & a great skua. Around 2 and half hours into the survey just about halfway across the channel, we spotted our next sighting. Light grey and looking like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards a pod of 4 Rissos dolphins slowly swam across the bow of the Armorique. These were also spotted by the officer of the watch who was interested to find out what species they were.

Another hour passed after the beautiful Rissos dolphins before any more sightings. With just an hour left before arriving in Plymouth 1 unidentified dolphin was spotted, followed quickly by a pair then a trio of Harbour porpoise and the final sighting of the survey 12 Common dolphins completely ignoring the ship as we approached the coast.

We ended the survey with a total of 26 cetaceans over 7 sightings.

Thank you to the survey team for your hard work and enthusiasm.

Many thanks to the Captain and his officers and crew of the Armorique and to Brittany Ferries for making this survey possible.


  • Common dolphins x 15
  • Harbour porpoise x 5
  • Risso's dolphins x 4
  • Unidentified dolphin x 1
  • Small cetacean x 1


Gannets, Great Skua, Guillemots, Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed gull, Kittiwake, unidentified flock of passerines

Survey team members

Kerry Heseltine