Friday, 9 August 2013

The Porcupine Seabight

The Porcupine Seabight is an interesting oceanographic feature located a hundred or so nautical miles  WSW off the southern coast of Ireland. It is a large depression where the water rapidly deepens and leads out to the abyssal depths of the North Atlantic. The strong ocean currents form nice areas of nutrient-rich upwelling so there is often an abundance of marine life- plankton, shoals of pelagic fish including albacore and yellow-fin tuna, cetaceans and seabirds- at least that is what it said in the tourist brochure! In all honesty there have been good numbers of fin whales- sometimes 5 or 6 in a day, the fishing fleets of Ireland and Spain are actively fishing for tuna, but seabirds have been rather scarce. Admittedly I see gannets and fulmars every day but numbers are low. A few lesser black-backed gulls have followed the survey vessel on occasion and I have had good days where I have seen four species of shearwater- Great, Corys, Sooty and Manx- but again numbers have been disappointing. I have also see a few bonxies, 2 Sabines gulls- both magnificent adults in summer plumage a few storm petrels and 1 wilson's petrel- I can't complain but I hope that numbers increase over the coming weeks! Unfortunately I have struggled with poor light and distant birds so taking photographs has been challenging, although this morning a great shearwater came within 40 metres of the bow, allowing me to rattle off a few snaps. Hopefully the sunshine and a nice Fea's or Bulwer's petrel are not too far away! 

great shearwater
great shearwater
nice flock of manx shearwaters
manx shearwaters- incredible how the light affects the plumage tones!

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