Log: Cetaceans on the Frontier 2010

1st Mar 2010 Survey Ended: Cetaceans on the Frontier 2010

Area: Porcupine Bank, Porcupine Seabight & Whittard Canyon.


Ship: Celtic Explorer


1 March 2010

This morning we were off Roches Point, Cork Harbour as were were due to drop off the survey team and take on board some equipment for an ROV deployment on the Porcupine Bank. Just as we were aboput to head in, Dave Williams spotted two killer whales, the male breaching clear of the water. We moved into the are where they were sighted but unfortunately, despite glass calm seas, they had made their getaway and were not re-sighted. On the run into Cobh we spotted a mixed group of common and bottlenose dolphins... poor compensation indeed.

This marks the end of the Cetaceans on the Frontier 2010 cruise. During the survey we have travelled over 1000 miles and logged over 90 sightings of four different cetacean species. We have also logged many hours of hydrophone data and recorded the vocalisations of at least 4 different cetacean species.

We conducted 29 CTD/Plankton stations and logged many hours of bird survey data. A full cruise report will be made available on these pages in due course.

We would like to thank Captain Dennis Rowan and the crew of the RV Celtic Explorer for all their help and support during this survey.

28 February 2010

The day was spent surveying across thee Labadie Bank. We hoped perhaps to find some large baleen whales, the theory being that they move offshore to this area at this time of year (when they become scarce inshore). Alas we saw no whales and very few dolphins. The total for the day was 2 groups of common dolphin (26 animals) and 3 unidentified dolphins.

Birds for the day were Gannet, fulmar, kittiwake, lesser black-backed gull, great black-backed gull, herring gull, puffin, and guillemot. The night was spent sampling zooplankton along the south coast as part of a stable isotope study of large baleen whale diet.

27 February 2010

Another common dolphin day as we steamed along the Irish/UK EEZ border towards the Labadie Bank. With a sea state of 3-4 survey conditions were good and small groups of common dolphins approached the ship on a regular basis to bow ride.By days end 25 sightings of 119 individuals had been logged.

The hydrophone was relatively quiet, only picking up common dolphis as they approached the bow. The night was spent conducting a series of CTD and plankton stations along the Labadie Bank. There was more life here in the top 100m than we had seen out over the deeper waters of the shelf slopes. One of the more unusual findings was of dozens of planktonic - stage starfish... we're not sure what species but they look like cushion stars.

Bird species were gannet, fulmar, kittiwake, great skua, lesser black-backed gull, great black-backed gull, herring gull and some auks - the first we've seen and marking a return to shallower nearshore waters.

26 February 2010

Today was spent surveying two more canyons in the east of the Whittard Canyon system.This brought us to within eight miles of the Ireland/UK/France EEZ boundaries which converge at this far southwest point. Common dolphins were the order of the day with 18 sightings totalling 240 animals. Their whistle and click repetoirs were picked up on the towed hydrophone.

Today's bird list was: Gannet, fulmar, kittiwake, greta skua, lesser and great black-backed gulls. The night was spent plankton sampling and conducting CTDs. Plankton hauls yielded some deepwater shimp, many copepods, a few unidentified c