Friday, 4 April 2014

Ten Years After...

Today the fourth of April was the tenth anniversary of our first Stena Europe cetacean surveys. I remember it well, the absolute privilege of being allowed up on the bridge of this fantastic vessel, was a dream come true. A forward view is the only way to perform proper surveys, too much would be missed from the stern or the sides.

Over these ten years I have safely crossed the Irish sea aboard the Stena Europe hundreds of times, seen thousands of Dolphins, dozens of Whales and porpoises a plenty. We have worked with hundreds of fantastic volunteers and laughed and joked with our Stena shipmates! We have been incredibly lucky and had so much help and kindness from everyone at Stena both onshore and aboard the ship. Particular thanks to Carl Milne who set us up on her to begin with. 

The Senior Master who allowed us onto his bridge was Captain David Farrell a man with a dry sense of humour, an old school master mariner, strict but fair. Much the same as his successor Captain Colm Clare.

Captain Farrell, like several others has retired but others, old mates like Rush, Bob and Charlie were still on the bridge today. It would be easy to go on, I could write a book and maybe will one day, but what we will definitely be writing will be a report based on our ten years of month by month surveys. We hope to get it finished by the end of the summer and I think it will be a uniquely comprehensive account.

Ten years ago we got off to a great start with Porp's, Common dolphins and a couple of Minke's and it just went on getting better and better with more Risso's in fact more of everything than we ever dared to expect. To date we have recorded Fin, Humpback and Minke Whales, Common Risso's and Bottlenose Dolphins as well as our ever present Porpoises.

Anyway enough of the history. We set off yesterday with a few drops of rain which soon passed, on a flat calm sea (SS1). Porpoise sighting followed porpoise sighting then a couple of Common Dolphins, some more porp's, a brief glimpse of a Minke Whale and more porp's as we passed the Tusker and on into Rosslare Harbour, an amazing forty sightings in all!Not bad in a crossing that is less then three and a half hours!

Today's return trip from Rosslare started sadly with only four black guillemots in the harbour. It seems like they really were hammered by the winter storms.Usually at this time of the year there would be around fifteen pairs all displaying and full of the joys of spring. We will see what we will see as the weeks pass but it doesn't look good.
Clearing the harbour the sea was calm (SS2) The porpoise and common dolphin sightings were still not as frenetic as yesterday but we still managed another 33 which included as a grand finale two small pods of Risso's in Fishguard Bay just before we entered the Harbour! Our crack team;Elfyn Pugh Dave Cunnife Peter Boyle and Hannah Harries did a fantastic job and we were all pretty exhausted at the end but well satisfied with our rewards. Sadly we did notget much in the way of Pic's (Where was RC when we needed him!) 

Bird-wise it was pretty good with two cracking summer plumage med gulls in Fishguard  Harbour,  a Red Throated Diver on our bow as we headed out into the bay. A few manxies several puffins first swallows and sandwich terns feeding off Rosslare Harbour! 

Team Sea Trust : HH, EP,DC&PB.


73 sightings
65 of porpoise
4 of common dolphin
2 of Risso's dolphin
1 of Minke whale
1 unidentified dolphin species

142 individual animals
110 porpoises
18 common dolphins
5 Risso's dolphins
1 Minke whale
8 unidentified dolphin species