Saturday, 18 June 2016

Incredible results from Sea Trust Holyhead Dublin Stena Superfast Ferry

Our Sea Trust (North Wales Team) headed by Dr Tony Gallon struck lucky whilst surveying aboard The Stena Superfast Ferry last Monday. Excerpts from their report:

Tony Gallon, Dave Williams, Glenn Evans & Rod Baker were Sea Trust’s observers on the trip. said Tony;
 "The pelagic was one of the best we have had in the north Irish Sea with over 35 cetaceans seen including good views of an Orca. The weather conditions on both the outward and return journeys, as far as the potential for cetacean sightings was concerned, were excellent in that the sea was slight and flat calm in parts; overcast conditions meant that  reflection off the sea surface was at a minimum and so viewing conditions were good to excellent on both legs of the crossing"

1.      "The sighting of an Orca was the highlight of the pelagic. The first view, dead ahead, was about 300 m away, it moved first at right angles to the ship and then in a direction of “4 o’clock” to the boat.

It displayed an excellent view (seen by all observers, as well as several crew members) of the very large dorsal fin. Shape of fin markedly elongated triangular with a two minor nicks at the top. 
An attempt has been made to identify the Orca from dorsal fin morphology. The very high pointed triangular shape indicates a male member of the British Pod. By fin shape comparison with the members of this group, it looks a lot like W O5 “Comet” although the latter seems to lack the two minor nicks we observed at the top of the dorsal fin".

1.  The numbers and diversity of cetaceans in the Irish Sea in June, including Common Dolphin, Harbour porpoise, Minke Whales and Orca, suggests an increase of marine mammals there during the summer (even allowing for the good viewing conditions)  The presence of Common Dolphins after an absence of some months intimates that they have recently moved/migrated into the northern Irish Sea.

We were made very welcome on the Stena Superfast X and Sea Trust wishes to extend their  heart-felt thanks to Stena for their generous and friendly hospitality.

Dr Anthony C Gallon.

This is an extremely interesting sighting which although the team did not manage to get photographs, the possibility of the animal being Comet seems plausible. Below are some photographs thought to be of "Comet" taken by veteran Sea Trust surveyor Steve Rosser on a Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust trip. Comet is probably over 40 years old part of a pod that is based around the Hebrides all of which seem to be quite old. Their lack of any breeding success would appear to mean their extinction as a pod is inevitable, a sad story.
Last year we received several reports of a single Orca wandering along the Welsh Coast, who knows perhaps it was Comet...