Thursday, 29 November 2012

On the 14.30 sailing of the Stena Europe we shall have Porpoises and a Risso's!!!

Risso's Dolphin :Steve Rosser

Yet again the weather has been almost impossible to predict. On Sunday waves were breaking 50 ft up the cliffs at Strumble, I have rarely seen such a stormy sea. Scanning the forcasts gave a changing picture day by day. Last night it looked like just maybe the conditions might be reasonable for a ferry survey Thursday /Friday
Of course Stena are brilliant and my last minute request to get on the Stena Europe was answered with the usual "no problem" from Carl! For several reasons I could not make it, but veteran surveyor Steve Rosser answered the last minute call as well as new girl Hannah. I met up with them at check in and handed over the GPS and other kit for the survey and bid them good luck.
I had a couple of things to sort out with some other volunteers so it was about 3pm  when I got home, just in time to recieve a message from Steve saying they were seeing porpoise and a Risso's  as they passed by Strumble.
I jumped into the car and drove the four miles as quickly as possible, arriving in time to see the Stena Europe  gliding away over a shimmering sea of  blue silver, but too late for the Risso's.
None the less the short days last hours of sunlight after weeks of rain and depressing overcast skies was a real treat. Despite the lack of Risso's, odd porpoises could be seen surfacing over a wide arc from South of the Strumble light and further to the north . In the far distance snow covered mountains shone. I really hope our survey team have plenty of sightings to keep them warm on the way back tomorrow!

Part Two.... ON the 0900 sailing of the Stena Europe from Rosslare to Fishguard, we will have... a Dolphin-Fest!
With more or less perfect survey conditions for the Friday Morning return trip from Rosslare to Fishguard things looked promising. and several porpoise sightings followed as the Stena Europe left its berth and headed east past the Tusker Rock. ... and then the dolphin-fest really began !...

Risso's: Steve Rosser
A pod of eight Risso's twenty odd Common Dolphins, thirty Common Dolphins forty +  Common dolphins, another Risso's  four Porpoises four then five more Common Dolphins coming in to bowride  

Common Dolphin races in to bowride : Steve Rosser

with several more Porpoise sightings on the way in off Strumble. All in all on the three hours of passage time between Rosslare and Fishguard our lucky survey team recorded a total of 99 Common Dolphins, 10 Risso's Dolphins and 26 Harbour Porpoises. Not bad for a winter trip with snow capped mountains on the horizon! Of course none of this would be possible without the incredible support we get from  The crew of the Stena Europe, as well as the shore side team. Many thanks to all!!!

Hannah enters another record :Steve Rosser.