Record year for cetacean sightings off Scilly Isles ferry
Best year yet for marine wildlife sightings off the Scillonian!
Risso's dolphins off the coast of Cornwall. Photo by Liz Foster.
November 2012. During the 2012 summer season, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust have had a marine wildlife guide, Paul Semmens, onboard the Scillonian III. Paul is onboard at least once a week between April and the end of October 2012. He surveys the route from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly, looking for the wonderful sharks, dolphins and whales that visit our Cornish waters, as well as showing the passengers these brilliant creatures
As part of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's marine conservation programme, Living Seas, Paul has been recording wildlife spotted as part of an on-going survey of what occurs in Cornish and Scillonian waters.
During the 2012 season there was so much to see! 1554 animals were recorded, a record year so far. These records consisted of;
- 379 harbour porpoise
- 1064 common dolphin
- 19 bottlenose dolphin
- 23 Risso's dolphin
- 19 Minke whale
- 2 unidentified cetacean species
- 3 leatherback turtle
- 24 basking shark
- 21 ocean sunfish
Paul says "During the 4 years that I have worked onboard, 2012 has been my best year yet. This was particularly special in a summer with very unsettled weather. There was a huge increase in harbour porpoises, a species that is not easy to spot in all but the calmest conditions. There has been a definite inshore movement of this species, as well common dolphins, probably in response to shoals of small bait fish. It was great to see leatherback turtles this year - they are huge beasts that can grow to seven foot long. It has been a record year in Cornish waters for this species with many sightings all around the coast. As we approached autumn we had regular sightings of Minke whales and Risso's dolphins especially as we drew near the Isles of Scilly. I would like to thank the crew and Isles of Scilly Travel staff for their continuing support of this project as we continue to build up a substantial database on the distribution of marine megafauna. The Scillonian is a great platform from which to look for these exciting animals and it is unusual not to see dolphins or porpoises on a crossing.'
Jackie Hayman, of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company says, "The wildlife watching tips with Paul are always extremely popular so we are thrilled to be launching a series of sailings throughout 2013. It's a great way to make the most of your time at sea during your journey to the Isles of Scilly and Paul always makes the trips informative. He is extremely knowledgeable and has a keen eye so you're sure to spot some great wildlife on the trip. Make sure you book early so you don't miss out."
Common dolphins seen of the Scillonian III - Photo credit Paul Semmens