Things have been rather quiet recently with just the odd sighting of a Basking Shark, Harbour Porpoise or an Ocean Sunfish.
The sea temperature is still a few degrees down on what we would expect at this time of year and this has slowed down my spotting rate a bit. Yesterday in the bay I spotted a small group of Bottlenose Dolphins but today I felt that there was a gear change in the marine environment. As soon as I left home I scanned the bay and immediately spotted a group of Common Dolphins. The sea was like a millpond, I thought it doesn’t get any better than this.
After I boarded the Scillonian I could see that the dolphins were still out there. Using my own binoculars I showed them to a few passengers, we could just make them out as they were over 2 miles away!! Luckily they stayed around and as we passed by, everyone on deck managed to see them.
Common Dolphins quietly swimming across the bay
With a hazy sky the sea was silvery and perfect for spotting dolphins and porpoises. We had another larger group of Common Dolphins as we passed Land’s End. These were more active than the first group, actively feeding and leaping clear of the water. Also lots of Gannets were feeding with them.
Passing the Wolf, a solitary lighthouse piercing the surface from 80 metres deep, everyone could easily spot the normally elusive Harbour Porpoise, slowly breaking the surface and we saw several small groups.
Just before arriving in Scilly a small fin flapped slowly from side to side, an Ocean Sunfish. Their season is just starting now and as the years progress they are being spotted more often in our waters. While on the island I even managed to spot more dolphins and porpoises while sitting having my lunch and looking out to sea. OK I do look out to sea rather a lot!
Calm sea is perfect to spot Harbour Porpoises
On our return more porpoises appeared and then later in the distance a large group of Gannets circled and dived on a shoal of fish. The splashing as the Gannets dived increased and increased as dolphins appeared chasing the same shoal. In the end the sea there was turbulent in the surrounding calm as up to a hundred Common Dolphins splashed and jumped in a feeding frenzy.
Apart from the usual seabirds lots of Puffins were spotted today, often resting in pairs on the water. I’m still seeing Puffins on every trip at the moment but they are quite small so if you want to see them, don’t forget your binoculars!
Paul Semmens Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trusts.