Thursday, 9 August 2012

A Proliferation of Porpoises

With the weather set fair for a Ferry survey five of us set of from Fishguard aboard the Stena Europe on Wednesday afternoon hoping for great things. The conditions were indeed perfect with a flat calm sea and an overcast sky to cut down the glare. Porpoises appeared soon after leaving the harbour and our total for the afternoon was 35 with most of them seen on the Welsh side of the crossing. A distant group of 20 Common Dolphins was added to the tally on the approach to Tusker Rock on the Irish side and 3 Rissos Dolphins also but in brief appearances. Rafts of Manx Shearwaters had been seen all the way  across and Rosslare Bay was full of birds with huge numbers of Manx Shearwaters and plenty of Gannets. With 10 minutes to go a Minke Whale surfaced briefly just once amidst the birds to provide a great ending to the outward leg.

This morning the conditions were even better with a glassy sea and some cloud cover for most of the trip. The visibilty was terrific with the Welsh coastline in sight soon after leaving Rosslare. 10 Rissos were seen on this leg, one of them sneaking up behind and showing well - a large, very pale individual - as it crossed astern the ferry.  Somewhat disappointingly, given the perfect conditions, no Common Dolphins were seen but this was more than made up for by the number of Porpoises. The morning total was 83 (yes, eighty three!) individuals with the majority again seen on the Welsh side. I guess this just goes to show how common Porpoises are in the Irish Sea and Pembrokeshire waters but they are only seen in their true numbers when the conditions are just right.
Porpoise photo from last week's Wildcat trip.