Sunday, 18 December 2016

Fantastic Festive Cetacean Survey aboard the Stena Europe!

We  (Steve Rosser and the Walrus) set off from Fishguard Harbour yesterday with the promise of a big high pressure sitting over us and calm seas for the next few days.The ship was decked out in polar bears and reindeer, tinsel and glitter and as usual there was a warm greeting from all our friends aboard.
Out on the Bridge wings we stared long and hard until the sun blazed crimson then sank below the horizon.  But despite our efforts  on this shortest of days, we drew a blank and left the bridge wing with the light of the Tusker winking at us.

After a nice meal in Kilrane we went back to the ship and span yarns until bedtime,then off to our bunks with the hope of better things to come! I slept fitfully and could feel the ship occasionally fidgeting as she rode a bit of rougher water which indicated more wind during the night than

Starting with a great breakfast in the Truckers Lounge and then back out onto the bridge wing! Our first hope was we might get a glimpse of the resident Bottlenose Dolphin that has been hanging around Rosslare Harbour for the past couple of years. Sheltered from the southerly breeze the sea was flat calm but no sign of the Dolphin until Steve spotted him by the green  South Long Buoy. It was just a tantalizing glimpse but it opened the score sheet!

A few minutes later we spotted a couple of Porpoises but as we left the shelter of the land the promise of flat calm conditions retreated as the sea state rose from one to four then five, We came "off effort" but continued to watch and were rewarded by a pod of about ten common dolphins that appeared from nowhere rode our bow for a few seconds before disappearing in our wake..What should have been a flat calm had roughened up but of course we hardly noticed it on the ship as she majestically floated us towards the Welsh Coast.

Soon the Bishops and Clerks along with Ramsay and St Davids head hove into view  and the surf broke white at the foot of the Cliffs, And then Steve shouted "Splash, Big Splash!" and even two miles distant we could just made out a couple of Risso's breaching over towards Pwll Deri.

So even though conditions were not exactly brilliant, we had clocked up four species of cetacean in just under  three hours. We reckoned we could  be the only ones to see four different species of Cetacean  in the UK during December which is a bit special, but to see four species in three hours in UK waters or anywhere in the depths of winter is probably a first! As we approached Strumble we expected a bit of a porp-fest but they disappointed us with a no show!...Instead we had a pod of around fifty to sixty Common Dolphins come streaming in to our bows!

In they come! (imagesd Steve Rosser /Cliff Benson).

 A first for Strumble in the winter months!  as I snapped away trying to get some half decent pic's  even  the Captain, Richard Davies came flying out to get a better view, and he is not a man who is easily impressed! So all in, all a pretty epic start to the festive season and the end of 2016.
Lets hope 2017 starts just as well with our New Years Day Strumble Porpoise Watch. Why not join us on the 1st of January Strumble Head 2.30!