CD 157: Investigating the submarine canyons off Portugal


Representing Data-Wildlife Observations

Some of the wildlife observations made on the cruise were a little on to find out more!

Mike Kurn and Jessica Simons devised a whale identification guide and daily tally chart for the cruise. The idea of wildlife observations was excellent and it is fortunate that Dr Russell Wynn is compiling a detailed study of this area. We left the identification and much of the observation to him as he is far more expert and reliable than us. We are grateful to him for allowing us to use his data.

Mike and Jess devised a method for summarising this data. Your task is to devise your own way of showing the different species that we saw. You could make this more challenging by including when we saw them.

The list is currently incomplete as we still have two days to travel. Part 1 will be completed after the cruise has finished. We managed to photograph many of the animals that we saw - these can be found on the website too.

Wildlife observations from RRS Charles Darwin during cruise CD157

Tenerife, Canary Islands to Vigo, Spain
May 28th 2004 to June 12th 2004

 Dr Russell B Wynn
(Southampton Oceanography Centre)

Friday May 28th
Inshore Tenerife
Weather: NE 2, warm and sunny

Small numbers of Common Terns and Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls were noted in Tenerife Harbour. The first half hour of passage then produced two Cory’s Shearwaters and 13 Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls, before seasickness abruptly halted observations for the day.

Saturday May 29th
31o50’N/14o45’W to 33o07’N/14o12’W
Weather: NNE 3-2, moderate cloud breaking to sun

Day totals included 52 Cory’s Shearwaters (all of the race diomedea where this could be determined), 39 Bulwers Petrels, 12 Common Terns (all moving NE on migration) and five Madeiran Storm-Petrels. Four Manx/Little Shearwaters were too distant to positively identify, as was a single Storm-Petrel sp. Most of these seabirds were probably from breeding colonies on the Canary and Madeiran Islands. Other observations included a single Green Turtle, while in the evening a group of eight Striped Dolphins were briefly seen bow-riding.

Sunday May 30th
35o15’N/13o10’W to 36o22’N/12o36’W
Weather: N 3, bright and sunny with scattered cloud

Fewer seabirds were noted, presumably because we were further from the breeding colonies on Madeira. A sample count for one hour in the early afternoon produced just two Bulwers Petrels and three Cory’s Shearwaters (all of the race diomedea where this could be determined). A Turtle Dove settled on the ship briefly in the mid-afternoon. At dusk at least three Fin Whales were seen blowing at the surface, and another unidentified large rorqual whale seen earlier in the evening was probably also this species.

Monday May 31st
Weather: N 4-3, cloudy but becoming brighter with sunny spells

Few observations made but a couple of sample half-hour counts produced just one Cory’s Shearwater, suggesting that this section of ocean is relatively devoid of seabirds.

Tuesday June 1st

Weather: NNE 3, light cloud

The only sighting of note was a 2nd summer Yellow-legged Gull.

Wednesday June 2nd
Weather: NNE 4, cloudy becoming sunny and bright

Two Collared Doves were seen on and around the ship during the day, while in the evening at least two Common Dolphins passed by with a couple of accompanying first-summer Gannets.

Thursday June 3rd
Weather: Variable 1, light cloud becoming warm and sunny

A couple of surprises today. Firstly, a Racing Pigeon that landed on the shoulder of one of the crew was captured, cleaned and given a temporary cage with some food and water. It was ink-stamped with a phone number on several primary feathers., and a bit of detective work tracked the code down to the Crewe area of the UK. In addition, a very tired Melodious Warbler arrived on deck during the early evening.

Friday June 4th
Weather: WNW 1-2, light cloud with sunny spells

The Melodious Warbler was still on board in the morning, but had grown visibly weaker. It was eventually taken into care but efforts to force feed sugar solution failed and it died in the early afternoon. A House Martin seen at dawn had apparently roosted on the ship overnight, while later in the day a couple of migrant moths were seen flying around. The only seabird was an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

Saturday June 5th
Weather: NW 2-1, light cloud with sunny spells

A Swallow roosted on the ship overnight and a Painted Lady butterfly was seen in the morning. Cetaceans included 1-2 Minke Whales, 3-5 Fin Whales and a school of at least 40 Common Dolphins. In the evening a House Martin arrived and roosted overnight.

Sunday June 6th
Weather: NW 1-2, light cloud with sunny spells

Two House Martins were present all day and a Collared Dove and two Racing Pigeons landed on board during the morning. Two or three Fin Whales were seen in the evening, including a large individual with a distinctive notch in the dorsal fin.

Monday June 7th
Weather: Variable 1-2, warm and sunny

The Collared Dove and two Racing Pigeons were still present early in the morning. During a passage close inshore off Lisbon good numbers of seabirds included at least 50 Gannets (mostly first-summers), about 20 Cory’s Shearwaters (race not determined), 20 Yellow-legged Gulls and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Tuesday June 8th
Weather: Variable 0-1, warm and sunny

Five Common Dolphins were seen playing around the ship’s lights at night, while at least four Common Dolphins were subsequently seen bow-riding in the morning. An arrival of insects included a hoverfly sp., a plume moth sp. and two unidentified moth sp. A single Minke Whale showed well for a long time in the afternoon, especially for a group of lucky scientists who were out on the ship’s inflatable boat at the time. The calm weather enabled some pelagic biology to be seen, including several surface swimming crabs and a variety of other floating fauna. Seabird observations in the evening included five Cory’s Shearwaters and five Commic Terns (flying north).

Wednesday June 9th
Weather: N 1-2, warm and sunny

More insects arrived on the ship, with a couple of Painted Lady butterflies, several hoverflies of at least two species, and an unidentified moth. A single Collared Dove was on board for most of the day, while seabirds included 13 Cory’s Shearwaters, nine European Storm-Petrels, a Madeiran Storm-Petrel and three Gannets. However, it was the cetaceans that were the undoubted highlight, with nine Minke Whales around the ship in the evening, and a distant group of at least five Common/Striped Dolphins hunting fish in association with the whales and shearwaters.

More details to follow for the last few days of the cruise...

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April 2004
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