Our wildlife expert was back on Scillionian last week and on the look-out for some of our most exciting marine wildlife.
Paul tells us about his sightings from the Scillionian last week:
There was a slight sea swell and a cool breeze today but the sun was shining and the passengers were soaking up the rays and relaxing on deck. Walking around the ship I recognised some familiar faces from previous years dolphin spotting and of course they were as keen as ever for a repeat performance.
On our voyage we passed marine activity of a slightly unexpected type – a naval exercise consisting of helicopters, an aircraft carrier and even a submarine with its periscope cutting its way smoothly through the waves. Unfortunately a necessary tool of the navy is sonar and this has a tendency to scare away dolphins. Whilst on this occasion we were unsuccessful in spotting any of our playful marine friends, it must be said that this type of naval operation is rare in the area so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they’ll be back in good numbers and putting on a show for my next trip.
We did however spot a couple of Ocean Sunfish, magnificent animals about a metre long in our waters but in the tropics can grow up to 3 metres and weigh 1000kg. The animal has developed a mutually beneficial partnership between itself and passing birds, swimming just below the surface it waits for a feathery friend to land nearby and then lets them remove any parasites from its skin – a welcome snack for the birds and a great health check for the fish! The Sunfish, the heaviest bony fish in the world; are regular visitors to our waters but this year they are earlier than normal, possibly here to feed on the large Barrel Jellyfish that are also quite a spectacle to see.
Leaving Penzance a Great Northern Diver flew overhead most likely on its way to the Arctic. In addition we witnessed the usual variety of marine birds, with Gannets and Manx Shearwaters often flying parallel to the ship – our own little feathered escort to the islands.
The islands are looking particularly lovely this year; I hope you can join me soon to enjoy British wildlife at its very best.