IT'S BEEN another record year for wildlife spotters riding the Scillonian III between St Mary's and Penzance – with top sightings including a leatherback turtle and a minke whale.
Wildlife expert Paul Semmens, who has worked for Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust for more than 20 years, carried out regular wildlife monitoring trips and helped passengers to see harbour porpoises, common dolphins, Risso's dolphins, basking sharks and ocean sunfish. He also spotted a wide variety of birds, including puffins, razorbills, Balearic, sooty and Manx shearwaters, and observed the highwaymen of the sea – great, pomarine and Arctic skuas, which rob other birds of their hard-earned fish.
Paul said: "After a slow start it has been another record season for sightings from the ship. It was great that for the second year running we spotted the gigantic leatherback turtle, here to feed on jellyfish.
"Also attracted by the jellyfish were higher than normal numbers of ocean sunfish that occurred from midsummer onwards.
"My personal highlight was on one October crossing when we saw around 400 common dolphins, with group after group leaping towards the ship for over an hour."
Sharon Sandercock of Isles of Scilly Travel, who supported Paul's monitoring trips, said: "We were delighted to support Cornwall Wildlife Trust to monitor and increase awareness of the amazing wildlife that can be seen on this crossing.
"We are proud that the Scillonian III plays such an important part in looking after local wildlife as well as providing a year-round connection between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."
The Cornwall Wildlife Trust is keen to hear about your wildlife spottings.
They can be sent via www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/livingseas/send_us_your_marine_sighting