Harbour Porpoises mark the first Scilly survey of the year

31st Mar 2014

Survey Report- Isles of Scilly 29th March 2014

Species Number Sighted
Harbour Porpoises 4
Grey Seal 1

The ship sailed at 08:45 in a sea state 4 and raining so using Binoculars was difficult but at 10:15 we had our first sighting of the day as a single Harbour porpoise passed close to the ship on the port side. There did not appear to be any concentrated groups of Gannets in the area although there were a lot of Auks on the water so it seemed clear that the waters were productive but probably not enough to attract the Common dolphins. The captain of the ship had told us that they have had no sightings as yet so we knew things were going to be quiet. As we approached the islands a single Grey seal was seen off the starboard side.

With an early sailing from the islands we were soon back on the water and looking forward to the return trip and this time there was no rain.

At 14:47 another single Harbour porpoise showed well and then at 16:07 we had a wonderful sighting of 2 Harbour porpoise that came close to the ship where we were able to see them just under the surface as we passed them. With sightings of Puffins, Manx shearwater, Kittiwake, Common scoter, Razorbill, Guillemot, Fulmar, Gannets and a  range of gulls we agreed that the survey had been a good one.

When sailing across the waters from Penzance to the Scilly islands you always measure each survey by previous ones and the number of sightings of Harbour porpoise in these conditions appears to show that the Harbour porpoise are still here in good numbers, all we are now waiting for is the return of the common dolphins and the other cetacean species that will surely show in the coming months. For now we can delight in the smallest of our cetaceans and look forward to the next survey.

As always, massive thanks to the crew of the Scillonian for allowing us onto the bridge.

- Paul Burley