Bumper Year For Scillonian III Wildlife Sightings

The Scillonian III

It’s been a bumper year for spotting wildlife from the deck of the Scillonian III.

That’s according to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust wildlife guide, Paul Semmens, who spends at least one day a week on-board the boat, between April and the end of October.

Paul points out marine animals to passengers, and chats to them about the various species, during the outward leg of the journey, but takes a full survey, including GPS locations during the return.

This year, there were a total of 1554 marine animals spotted, compared to 1170 last year and 1200 in 2010.

Paul says this is by far the best season in the four years he’s been surveying the wildlife. It was even more remarkable because the weather was very unsettled which makes spotting animals difficult.

In particular, there was a huge increase in common dolphins and harbour porpoises as well as increased number of sunfish, which Paul thinks is due to the small fish on which they feed coming closer to the land.

But the highlight was spotting three leatherback turtles, two of which were seen on the same day. Paul said one swam right up to the Scillonian, giving passengers an excellent view.

And twice this year, passengers had the rare sight of a huge school of dolphins following the Scillonian. Everywhere you looked, Paul said, you could see dolphins jumping.

But one marine mammal proved a bit more elusive. On two occasions, there were suspected sightings of giant humpback whales, but both times they were gone too quickly to be certain, says Paul.

Paul’s data is used by the Wildlife Trust to track the movement of species through the season and from year to year.

For can find more information about Paul’s sightings and read his blog here.

This year’s sightings include:

  • 1064 Common Dolphin
  • 379 Harbour Porpoise
  • 24 Basking Shark
  • 23 Risso’s Dolphin
  • 21 Ocean Sunfish
  • 19 Bottlenose Dolphin
  • 19 Minke Whale
  • 3 Leatherback Turtle
  • 2 unidentified cetacean species