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  • James

Whale Watch Blog - 28th October

Saturday the 28th of October saw the Rockpool Project’s BioBlitz Event, an ambitious project aiming to record as much of Falmouth’s biodiversity as possible. A variety of different events took place to achieve this goal, from moth trapping to rockpooling, as well as a bunch of awesome speakers at the Princess Pavillion. Overall, it was an awesome event to learn about all the amazing wildlife that’s present in Falmouth. To help with this, we at FMC were really happy to run a Shorewatch from our usual spot at Pendennis Point. This was a great way for us to record lots of wildlife, as well as engage with some other great local organisations, as we ran this event as a joint session, with both the rockpool project and the universities’ MarineWatch Society, which is always fun.

This was a really successful sea watch, where we managed to record over 20 species! Most of these were our regular seabird visitors that we normally see off Pendennis. This included lots of different gulls – our usual herring gulls, both lesser and greater black-backed gulls, black headed gulls, as well as the similar Mediterranean gull. As the name suggests, these gulls normally inhabit the Mediterranean basin, but are more regularly being seen off our shores and for a longer period each year, probably driven by climate change. We also saw both cormorants and shags, Oystercatchers, Gannets, and some more uncommon pelagic species; kittiwakes, great northern divers, and guillemots further out at sea. Also seen further out were four species of shearwater: the Manx, Great, Sooty, and Balearic. These species migrate extreme distances, with the Manx shearwaters spending their summers in the North Atlantic, and spending the winter off the coast of south America! These birds had probably started their journey down to that part of the world, and they’ll return next summer! They’re really incredible. The highlight of the birds we saw was definitely some common shelducks though – two flew straight past us at the point, and this was the first time I’d ever seen them from here.

Image by Alex Wright

I think the animals that everyone enjoyed seeing the most thought were the marine megafauna species that we focus our SeaQuest surveys on. We were briefly joined at the start of the survey by an adult grey seal, playing in the rough waves at the end of the point. This one sadly didn’t stay for long, and had dived and left before most could get a view. We were, however, amazingly joined by our amazing Atlantic Bluefin Tuna for the entire survey, seeing at least five jump clear of the water over two hours. These amazing fish can easily grow to 3m+, and they’re very active and acrobatic hunters at the surface, giving us some amazing views of them. This species is one that’s making an amazing comeback in our waters, as targeted fishing of them has been banned for a few years. It's worth noting that a small number of boats have been granted licences to start hunting these amazing animals again. I really hope the population remains at a stable level and we can continue observing these amazing animals from our monthly survey for years to come!

Image by Alex Wright

Overall, this was a really successful survey, and we managed to contribute massively to the rockpool project’s data collection, and engage many of the local community with our amazing wildlife! If you’re interested in seeing this amazing wildlife, we run surveys on the first Sunday of every month at Pendennis Point, from 11am until 1pm. We’ll be running two more surveys before the end of the year, on the 5th of November, and the 3rd of December. It would be great to see you there!


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