Common Dolphins and a Minke Whale sighted in the North Sea

30th May 2013

Summary of Sightings

Species Number of Sightings
Short Beaked Common Dolphins 4
Minke Whale 1
Harbour Porpoise 28
Grey Seal 4

25-27 May 2013 Newcastle Amsterdam survey

Emma Howe Andrews, Kareem Jones and Brian Clasper boarded the Princess Seaways for the Newcastle Amsterdam DFDS/ ORCA survey on Saturday May 25th for an evening departure

Having been seabird watching  from Hartlepool in Storm conditions the day before I didn’t expect much on our first transect from North Shields quay.  However we were pleasantly surprised to a sea state 2 which became 1 later in the evening. Off North Yorkshire the sightings were greatest with 4 Short Beaked Common Dolphins bursting onto the scene with 20 Harbour Porpoises rolling really well in the flat calm sea. Kareem and I initially saw a distant Minke Whale but Emma was superb in picking it up on her side getting a positive ID. With the local seabirds seen as we passed their breeding colonies , what an evening.

- Emma on the bridge

The following morning we woke to different conditions having caught up with the tail end of the storm in a sea state 4. Just managing 1 Harbour Porpoise in the second transect.  The bonus was 3 Sabine`s gull having been blown into the North sea by the Northerly gales.  Amsterdam was quite cold with rain threatening .  However we managed a stroll around the city marvelling at the skew whiff architecture.

Back to the Ship for our evening sailing, with the conditions slowly improving.  However strangely the area around the offshore windfarms , which normally are reliable for sightings of porpoises, was quiet with only a single individual.  With better conditions off the North east coast we had high expectations for our final transect on the Monday morning.

-Flight of Auks off North Yorkshire coastline

We woke up with a sea state 2 -3.  We only managed 3 sightings of Porpoises and 4 Grey seals.  However the porpoises behaviour was different to the first transect in that they were only showing briefly with a much shallower roll coming to the surface. The action reminiscent observed by John Young on his recent Harwich survey. Talking to a local skipper evidently it could be feeding near the surface ?. I have an open mind regarding this & would be interested on views of this action.

The Ferry was very busy but the whole crew could not  be more accommodating especially all the crew on the bridge.
An excellent but demanding trip . Well done team excellent results, all with a smile on our  faces.


3 Sabines gull, 40 Fulmar, 200 Gannet, 5 Cormorant, 2 Shag, 4 Eider, 3 Oystercatcher, 110 Kittiwake, 1 Sandwich tern, 25 Common tern, 20 Arctic tern, 100 Guillemot, 36 Razorbill, 16 Puffin , Collared Dove.  In Amsterdam most notable sightings were quite a few Egyptian geese on the canals.

All the best
Brian Clasper


Sightings Map