2018-10-05 - Portsmouth-Caen

Survey details

Survey route: Portsmouth-Caen

Company: Brittany Ferries

Sea region: English Channel

Survey start date: 2018-10-05

Number of nights: 1

Juvenile gannet

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

It was the last survey of the season to Caen and as we gathered in the Portsmouth Terminal the sunrise heralded a beautiful morning. We boarded the Mont St Michel and after watching us sail pass Portsmouth and Southsea in the early morning sunshine we were escorted to the bridge where Captain Pierre Le Joone welcomed us warmly.

The swell was very light although there were some whitecaps about, however the sun was very strong and ahead of us for the whole morning so affecting our ability to view that important area directly ahead of the ship.

A seal popped up briefly on the port side soon after starting the survey making us hopeful that the harbour porpoise normally seen in the Baie de Seine would be easily spotted when the sea state dropped as it normally does.

Although the sea state improved with no whitecaps as we approached the Baie de Seine and the porpoise were elusive so we disembarked surprised we hadn’t managed to spot any.

After a spot of lunch in the sunshine we embarked and were escorted back to the bridge where conditions were even better with no swell and a sea state of 2 we started the survey and were immediately surrounded by a large pod of bottlenose dolphins feeding and attracted to the ship. In the conditions they were easily spotted and everybody, including the crew enjoyed the few minutes they were with us. Maybe this was the reason we had no sightings of the harbour porpoise as they may have moved further away from these larger animals.

On a high, the sea state kept falling as it almost reached 0 we spotted a splash and 2 triangular fins, and as we kept our eye on where the splash was moving to, under the bridge wing, the two harbour porpoise were seen clearly, not as usual swimming away from the ship fast, but just rolling into a dive.

The conditions were ideal and we eventually reached a sea state 0 with no swell, the conditions you dream of and a couple of large barrel jellyfish were spotted but unfortunately they were the final sightings as the sun finally set and we had to say goodnight to the crew.

Many thanks to Brittany Ferries and the Captain and his crew for allowing us this chance to experience such a wonderful day and thank you to a hardworking, enthusiastic team who for their first survey did extremely well and made it such a joyful trip.


17 Bottlenose Dolphins

2 Harbour Porpoise

1 unidentified seal


Gannet, Cormorant, Fulmar, Great skua, Greater black-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Herring gull, Black-headed gull, a small flock of unidentified waders, Little egret and a small flock of migrating LBJ’s

Survey team members

Mary Hill, Neil Parkinson, Hannah Parkinson, Olivia Bell