Log: MI Oceanographic Survey 2009

14th Feb 2009 Survey Ended: MI Oceanographic Survey 2009

Area: Rockall Trough, Porcupine Bank

Agency: Marine Institute

Ship: Celtic Explorer

Observer: Dave Wall

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14th February 2009

As we approached Galway Bay, Transiting west of the Aran Islands, we were greeted by the ususal compliment of common dolphins which seem to always frequent this area. During the course of the day five groups of common dolphins (total 27 animals) approached the ship to bow-ride. In the evening we passed into Galway Bay and from there onto Galway docks, marking the end of the survey.


13th February 2009

Today we were back on the upper slopes of the Irish shelf. Sea state was 4-5 all day with a heavy swell running. Sightings were limited to one group of dolphins (probably common) which disappeared under the bow before ID could be confirmed.

12th February 2009

A better day today, with sea state 4 all day. Overcast but dry meant good visibility. During the course of the day we logged 3 sperm whale sightings, one of which passed within 200m of the ship. Also seen was a brief visit to the ship by a pod of 5 bottlenose dolphins.

Sperm Whale, Rockall Trough © Dave Wall GMIT/IWDG

11th February 2009

Despite a good start of sea state 2, the wind gradually picked up during the day to sea state 6 in the afternoon. Added to this was the misery of an overcast day with constant drizzle obscuring the view. No sightings were made.

10th February 2009

Today we surveyed along the eastern slopes of the southern end of the Rockall Bank. Sea state was 5-6 all day. Despite the conditions one sighting was logged for the day, with a group of 6 pilot whales making the briefest of visits to the ship before being lost in the clutter.

9th February 2009

Better conditions today with a sea state of 2-3 all morning, increasing to 4 in the afternoon. The heavy swell persists. Despite some fantastic survey conditions for the Rockall Trough at this time of year, there were no sightings. This far out into the Rockall Trough really makes changes in fauna as you move away from land noticeable and even the sea birds were skimpy today with just fulmars and kittiwakes as our companions now. Even the broadband has abandoned us until we return closer to shore.

8th February 2009

Weather conditions had deteriorated overnight. Sea state was 6-8 all day with a heavy swell. As we crossed the deepest part of the Rockall Trough the hope was for some sperm whales or pilot whales but alas there were no sightings.

7th February 2009

This morning we had reached the western edge of the Porcupine Bank and spent the day on the Bank and its slopes. Despite some very good survey conditions (sea state 2-3, only increasing to 5 in the late afternoon), the only sighting of the day was of a pod of c10 bottlenose dolphins that passed the ship a kilometre to the east.

Bottlenose Dolphin, Porcupine Bank © Dave Wall GMIT/IWDG

6th February 2009

Today was spent in reasonable conditions (sea state 4-5 with heavy swell) along the 200m contour where the Porcupine joins the Irish Shelf, west of Loop Head. The first task of the day was to help track down a French oceanographic ‘drifter' buoy, which was getting too close to land for its own good and was to be retrieved and re-deployed in the Rockall Trough. This was no mean task as the buoy was small and black, the seas were choppy with a swell and the only reference as to the location of the buoy was a satellite location which indicated where the buoy was earlier in the day. Even with th