Monday, 9 September 2013

Dolphinathon part 2

... On Wednesday afternoon we had Kyte Timmins and his gang of 9 with us for the return journey to Rosslare. The wind had picked up a bit, and conditions weren't great, but we still managed some really nice views of a couple of porps surfing in the waves – the sunshine making them clear under the water. We also had a couple of small pods of common dolphins come in to ride the bow waves, which is always a treat!
Thursday morning, we set off and had barely left the channel before we had some very large splashes about a mile away. These were initially dismissed as waves crashing on a reef, but after 3 large splashes and an obvious shape come out of the water we know we had something – but what, we can’t be sure. After the Thresher we had last week, we can’t even be sure this was a cetacean. We won’t speculate, but will leave you to do that! After the frustration of the first sighting, we were then treated to a pod of around 30 commons coming in to bow ride, followed by another 4, and our journey finished with a Strumble porp.
Thursday afternoon conditions had picked up yet again, and we had quite a quiet leg – a very brief view of a couple of commons flying away from us about an hour off the Welsh coast, and a pod of around 5-7 Risso’s not far from Rosslare once the sea had calmed down, seen at a fair distance.
Friday morning we struggled with conditions – strong glare straight ahead and sea state 4+ meant no sightings until nearly 11 o’clock! But we weren't disappointed after, with 3 pods of common dolphins coming up to the ship – one of which can’t have been less than 80-100 dolphins – it seemed like we’d hit into a feeding frenzy, with 30+ gannets diving everywhere and following them right up to the ship for a lovely view. We then had a quick glimpse of a single porp, and a Risso’s not far from Fishguard harbour! We saw one big pale individual, clear under the waves just off our bow.
Friday afternoon, and our last leg of this year’s event, and it didn't disappoint! With another gang of eager spotters – this time Kim Jameson and her pals, we headed off hopeful, despite another sea state 4+. We had 3 separate porpoise sightings, again showing really clearly under the waves with the sun shining on them. We were extremely thankful for the gannets this leg, as they were our key to every single sighting, amidst the rolling waves. About half way across, just as we’d hoped, we hit into the same feeding group again – at least 100-120 individuals this time, with loads of gannets flying and diving all around us! Not a bad way to end the week!

The figures for the week:
Porpoise - 27  sightings, 56 individuals

Risso's - 9 sightings, 37+ individuals

Commons - 12 sightings, 299+ individuals

Unidentified dolphin sp. - 3 sightings, 24 individuals

Unidentified - 2 sightings, ? individuals

Total - 53 sightings, 417+ animals