Saturday, 2 July 2011

Flat Calm in the Irish Sea

Perfect weather for a Sea Trust survey on the Stena Europe from Fishguard to Rosslare with flat calm seas and a slight overcast. On the outward leg yesterday Verena, Peter Boyle and I were joined by Dave Smith of Orca who is attempting to see as many species of Cetacean as possible in Europe during July - well he got off to a pretty good start! We saw plenty of Porpoises on the way over - 17 sightings with a total of 33 animals, including 3 calves. Approaching the Tusker Rock on the Irish side we saw a lone Risso's Dolphin then a group of 4 more and the leg was then crowned with a Minke Whale ahead of the ship which we then passed on the port side. Not quite the close encounter which Steve Rosser had (see posting below) but we were not complaining!
After refreshments in Rosslare we reboarded the ship and were able to spend a further hour on the bridge due to the long evening light. In this short space of time we added another 8 Porpoises (including 1 calf) and had 4 sightings of Risso's involving 19 animals, including 1 juvenile. We hit the sack later on very contented.
This morning the conditions were again near perfect for the return to Fishguard with, perhaps, a little more glare. Risso's Dolphins featured across the breadth of the crossing - 7 sightings, 27 animals. Porpoise numbers were again high with 9 sightings of 13 animals and we added Common Dolphin to the species list with 4 sightings of 73 animals in total. Phew! Again the icing on the cake was a Minke Whale about halfway across which appeared on the starboard side at reasonable range giving good views.
Amazing to experience the diversity of species and number of animals in the Irish Sea. Oh for more calm weather to see just what is out there.
(Apologies for poor record shots of Porpoise with Calf and Risso's Dolphins!)
See Dave's report of his weekend in Wales here