Wednesday, 24 June 2015

There's dolphins off the starboard bow!

As I mentioned in the last blog, we had to spend a couple of days travelling from Liverpool to Falmouth at the start of our cruise so that we could fix a problem with the ship (which went smoothly) and then transfer our remaining scientists on board ready to get to work. Because our research site is 300 km offshore, we tend not to see too much in terms of wildlife once we get over deep water so the extra time spent off the Welsh coast provided some nice opportunities for wildlife-spotting!

Hello down there!

We had really nice sightings of most of the usual suspects: kittiwakes, gulls, gannets and fulmars were the most common birds, as you'd expect really, but because we were a little further offshore we also had a few sightings of Manx shearwaters which was really nice. Shearwaters and petrels live almost entirely at sea (usually quite far offshore), and only come to shore to breed in burrows (a bit like puffins). Unfortunately, when they come ashore they're also nocturnal, which means your chances of seeing them are pretty small most of the time. I can't pretend I got any decent photos of them, but they are always nice to see!

A crappy photo of a distant Manx shearwater

We were also joined by a small pod of common dolphins en route, which looked like they had a calf or two with them. They didn't stay with us for too long, but they were bouncing around enough to grab a few shots! I've never had a great deal of luck photographing these guys because they move around so fast, but I'm pretty pleased with how these photos came out.

Common dolphins under a wave

 
Common dolphin
A small group of common dolphins leaping

Common dolphins

Oh - and we also briefly had a couple of stowaways with us too! They seem to have left us at Falmouth though so we won't be adopting them as cruise mascots!

A couple of racing pigeons briefly stowed away with us for a trip to Falmouth.