The jobs here were both AUV geophysical surveys with a variety of
geotechnical sampling in order to map possible routes for the offshore
section of a gas pipeline from the Tamar field to Israel. The vessel
mobilised on both occasions at Limassol, Cyprus.
HUGIN 3000 AUV - the reason for being in the Med.....
As usual the eastern Mediterranean was disappointing for seabirds with
very little to be seen other than a few presumed Yellow-legged Gulls -
occasional Cormorants, a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls and, in 2009, a
January 2010 and January 2011 was even quieter with almost no birds at
all sighted - with the
notable exception of adult winter Pallas's
on a few occasions. These birds were invariably feeding
offshore at night, not far inside the Israeli 12 nautical mile limits.
The Yellow-egged Gull presumption was proved wrong in 2011 as most of
legged" gulls were in fact either Armenian Gulls or Heuglin's Gulls.
Armenian Gull, Ashdod
Port, January 2011
Heuglin's Gull, Ashdod
Port, January 2011
In late November 2009 quite a few migrants landed onboard, mostly
spells of cloudy or rainy weather. No passerines landed on the vessel
during December but quite a few were flying around at night during the
frequent periods of strong winds. All
remained unidentified but included larks and a wader. Christmas and New
Year saw most of Europe struggling with extenisve snow and temperatures
well below freezing - a Song Thrush on the back deck bore testament to
the harshness of the conditions further north. This bird was obviously
fleeing the cold and attempting to cross the med in a desparate bid to
survive. A few unidentified passerines were seen offshore during
January 2011, two of which were thrushes of some kind
Very little of any kind of sealife was seen either, occasional schools
of Tuna, some flying fish (especially nearer to shore) and small
numbers of squid -
a few of which were washed up on deck during periods of bad weather.
Kingfisher fished right beside our vessel alongside in Limassol
The last week of November was by far the most productive with Black
Redstarts onboard more or less daily. On one occasion they were joined
by a Stonechat. Other birds included White Wagtail and Meadow Pipit.
Perhaps the most unexpected sighting of the trip was a migrant Crag Martin
seemingly hunting insects attracted to the lights illuminating the back
deck during the night of 01 December.
There was much more drama with vessels sinking than with any natural
phenomena - at least three different vessels went down in the space of
a few weeks. Our vessel was invloved in the search for survivors from
one of these - the Salla 2. All we found was a lifebelt from
stricken ship. Whilst scanning the sea with the searchlights quite a
number of birds were picked up struggling to cross the stormy seas to
from the Salla 2 which went down not far from where we were working and
were involved in the search for survivors
Perhaps surprisingly an amazing number and variety of insects were seen
onboard - no doubt attempting to cross the Mediterranean. These
included dragonflies, butterflies, bugs and moths. In January 2011
there were also quite a lot of insects seen - including some migrating
Bedstraw Hawk Moths.
MiMigrating Striped Hawk
Moth, Eastern Mediterranean, January 2011