It was a bright and early start for the ORCA team boarding the Mont St Michel from Portsmouth International Ferry Terminal on route to sunny Caen. For two surveyors this would be their first ever ORCA survey, which made the crossing especially exciting.
Shortly after leaving Portsmouth harbour the ORCA team were on the bridge ready for the day survey. Sea conditions were constant throughout with a sea state 4 recorded for most the transect, swell varied from slight to moderate and the sunny conditions meant glare was present throughout the day. With two new Marine Mammal Surveyors this did not deter the team, providing the new members with valuable sea experience to put the ORCA protocol into practice and the opportunity to get to grips with Logger.
On both the outbound and inbound transect birds were few and far between; Northern gannets, herring gull, black-headed gulls, a lone manx shearwater and a pigeon were all spotted. Midway between Portsmouth and Caen we had our first brief encounter with two unidentified cetaceans on the port side, their dorsal fins silhouetted against the glare making a positive identification difficult. As we approached Caen the sea conditions settled to a very pleasant sea state 2 with swell absent. Although no further cetaceans were sighted, large numbers of cormorants could be seen basking in the sunshine on the rocks that border the entrance to Caen port.
With such a quick turnaround in Caen there was just enough time to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the numerous swifts dancing high in the clear blue sky, before checking back in.
We were soon back on board the Mont St Michel and looking forward to our return sailing. The weather conditions remained unchanged from our morning transect, sadly no further marine mammals were sighted and as we approached the Isle of Wight it was time for us to leave the bridge.
Many thanks to the hardworking, enthusiastic team who made this such an enjoyable trip. And a special thank you to the captain and crew for making us feel very welcome on board the Mont St Michel.
Marine Mammal Sightings:
2x Unidentified dolphins
Northern gannet, herring gull, Manx shearwater, pigeon, black-headed gull, cormorant and swift
Hannah Ramsey-Smith, Christina Eland, Marion Balaam, Izzy Coleman-Wood