Thursday, 26 September 2013

Stena Europe Survey, porp-fest then fog...

Another strange Stena Survey with nothing seen for an hour despite sea state 2 and reasonable visibility. It may have been the state of the tide because an early visit to Strumble  in the morning revealed lots of gannets with porpoise beneath them but they were gone as we passed by out of Fishguard in the afternoon. I was beginning to wonder if all the cetaceans in The Irish Sea had gone on holiday when we began picking up porpoises. A couple of pods of Common Dolphins added some variety and new guys Shenaz and Chris (who joined us at four hours notice!) began to see what our crossing could produce. We missed out on Risso's as the weather turned increasingly murky but with fifteen sightings in three hours (two really considering the blank first hour) it was not a bad crossing with Porpoises showing strongly.

The next morning dawned foggy and dull but windless. It was a real pain and we set out from Rosslare Harbour with the ships whistle (Foghorn) blasting our eardrums hanging over the side of the bridge wing looking at an absolute swarm of Rhizostoma (Barrel) Jelly fish Visibility was down to about 50 M at most and we cruised over a flat sea with only jrellyfish to see. Except Steve Rosser got a momentary glance of what was probably a leatherback turtle!  the fog cleared slowly with some distant Risso's just visible to Hannah on the edge of the fog. It was gut wrenching to be on such a calm sea with limited visibility. By the time we got about halfway the vizibility began to improve and we picked up a few porps as we approached Strumble. A pretty frustrating trip but you cant always get what you want. We are on the Celtic Wildcat today with Nick o' Sullivan so lets hope the weather is more cooperative.
A phone call on my answer machine from Ian Hotchin reporting two maybe three Bottlenose dolphins In Fishguard Bay which we did not see and missed by a few minutes would have been a nice end to the trip...arghhhhh!

Common dolphin sighting