Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Stena Ferry Survey with old and new friends!

Another weather window seemed to present itself  (Tues/Wed) and as we had Ernst Shrijver and his girlfriend Nikki with us  and Josie Palmer who is with us this week for some work experience, along with hannah and myself , we had a ready made survey team. 
Ernst spent time with Malcolm Barradell in the winter of 2010 recording porpoises in Ramsay Sound and also came out on the ferry with us.  He has kept in touch over the years and now works with "Rugfin" the Dutch cetacean group who survey with Stena on their Hook of Holland/ Harwich route.
The survey got off to a poor start with a strong coastal breeze chopping up the sea and we saw nothing as we set off past Strumble. Although conditions settled down nicely to a SS2 we continued on our way with little in the way of distraction from either cetaceans or sea birds, other than the odd porpoise and manxie etc.
Luckily, we had the first hour of the return evening crossing and this was rather more productive with two Risso's sightings including one where the Risso's dissapeared in front of us but resurfaced behind, to ride our wake, giving some thrilling views! A few more porpoises began to make this a special hour as the sea calmed to a silvery flatness.
We woke up again in Rosslare on Wednesday morning with a bit more wind than forcasted but  again the Risso's triangle smiled on us and as well as some more Porpoise sightings we managed to get three more Risso's sightings. Sadly the wind forcat at 7 mph whipped up to 20 knots and we added only one or two more porpoise. Ironically a bout 15 miles off the Welsh coast the sea flattened to SS1 but with thick fog which prematurely ended our survey! Not one of our best by recent very high standards but still a great experience for our Ernst nikki and Josie!
It is when you are on the bridge of a 30,000 ton super ferry edging into a harbour you cannot see with  visibility down to less than 30 mteres , when you really appreciate the proffesionalism of the officers and crew we berthed safe and sound and on time! It really is a privilege to feel a part of such a great gang of people!

Film of a pod of Risso's in the wake of the ship from Tuesday