Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphins sighted in the Irish Sea

22nd Jul 2013

Summary of Sightings

Species Number Sighted
Harbour Porpoise 9
Bottlenose Dolphins 2
Unidentified Dolphins 4
Grey Seals 1

Hi all,

At the terminal building I met two keen Mammal surveyors. Jade Chenery and Graham Wild. Neither had carried out a survey before but you wouldn`t had thought so, they took to it` like Porpoises to water`.

We boarded the `Ben My Chree` ferry at 1415 in glorious sunshine at the Heysham terminal. The Sea state was ideal from Zero to One all day. The week prior, sightings had slowed down due to cooling water. Having emailed the bridge prior to arrival of an ORCA survey, we were greeted and taken to the Premier lounge for drinks and after 20 mins. escorted onto the bridge. On the return however we had to wait 30 min to go to the bridge but were very well received. The crew were most hospitable. The turn around was quick an hour in Douglas with the boat very full after a few motorbike races on the island.

The Ferry departed at 1945 having berthed at 1740, however as the return was so productive we surveyed till 2200 and we arrived at Heysham 2315

The outbound journey ticked over with 3 Harbour Porpoises & a Grey seal. However we managed to see 2 long distance dolphins breaching with a back drop of Blackpool tower, a surreal experience which would have made an excellent picture had we been closer. Another amazing sight was to see rafts of Manx Shearwaters midway taking off gliding over the flat calm sea, a beautiful natural sight .On approaching Douglas there was a lot of activity from Scallop fisherman churning up the sea floor. This may have proved to our advantage though later.

 - Manx Shearwaters
On the return we gained access to the bridge to start surveying in the same area mentioned .There was a lot of activity from seabirds after the boats had left as well as a frenzied effort by Harbour Porpoises. Had the traumatic raking of the sea floor created food for fish ?, in turn prey for Harbour Porpoises and Gannets ?  We continued the watch till it was a nearly dark as a pair of Bottlenose Dolphins came to the boat at 2200 and kept pace for a while. This was a fitting end to a good survey

May I take this opportunity to thank the Jade Chenery & Graham Wild, my new friends & fellow hard working surveyors . I was impressed by their concentration and dedication to the task involved.


 - Jade & Brian

Many thanks also go to Catherine Bowley &, Katie Baird who all helped toward the survey.

See you all again soon ,

Brian Clasper

Team Leader


Bird Sightings

From the boat whilst surveying:-
Fulmar 3,Gannets 80, Cormorant 9,Oystercatcher 1,Lesser black
backed gull 15,Herring 14,Black headed gull 6,Common gull 4,Kittiwake 40,Sandwich tern 5, ,Guillemot 117,Razorbill 4, ,Manx shearwater 5000, Arctic Skua, Great Skua,20 Black guillemot, Swift ,4 Shag, 10 Cormorant