Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A pretty jammy Stena Survey!

The Stena Europe off Strumble!
Despite some initial confusion as to whether the Stena Europe was going in for a refit, and problems with Gmail we eventually sorted ourselves out for a last minute survey sailing on Sunday and returning on Monday! Luckily I had Cristina our Spanish volunteer from last year staying with us and Jeanette also scheduled to be with us so literally at an hours notice we managed to get our team together and get aboard!

Despite the pretty good weather forecast earlier in the week things were looking marginal and the flat calm we should have had was bordering on sea state 3 as we left Fishguard. None the less we managed to spot a couple of porps in the bay. As we progressed we peered out into the fast disappearing daylight and by halfway had to abandon the outward leg as it got too dark to see.

A good nights sleep saw us back in Rosslare again for a morning trip back to Fishguard. As dawn broke it was obviously not flat calm but the edge of the tide  seemed to be directly in line with our course and at least tthree porpoises were encountered obviously foraging along that edge. The sea state began to increase and not far after passing the Tusker light we downgraded the watch from effort to casual. It became rather less casual when the bridge crew informed us that  a party of kyakers were tryinbg to paddle from Rosslare to Fishguard and had set off at four in the morning! The sea was force four + and gnarly and not the kind of weather for trying a crossing especially given the short day  length and possibility of being run down in the dark by either of the ferries or the fishing boats using the harbour. We skinned our eyes looking for them and it may have been that the extra urgency of the situation rewarded us with a nice sighting of a pod of around 20 Common Dolphins seen at some distance before we might otherwise have seen them until we drew closer.

Searching for dolphins and Kyaks!

It was at about half way, the sea calmed down progressively and we resumed our effort watch. As we came in towards Strumble we started picking up Porpoises. By the time we were approaching Fishguard Harbour we had seen at least twenty which was a great ending to what had been a bit of a jammy survey, having missed October without a suitable weather window. The Stena Europe will be away for the next couple of weeks so thank heavens we did get a couple of hours of pretty productive survey. In total we had 16 seperate sightings including one pod of around 20+ dolphins and 15 others of porpoiseswhich amounted to 27 individuals. Not bad for a just under five hours survey effort.
Lets hope we get another one in before Christmas!

Strumble from The Stena Europe.