Cruise along to see the glorious gannets

Gannet pair'p-icture: Steve Race
Gannet pair'p-icture: Steve Race

This Saturday sees the start of the RSPB’s Glorious Gannets Cruises –a unique opportunity for visitors to the East Yorkshire coast to get a front row seat in a spectacular seabird arena, underneath the 400ft high chalk cliffs of Bempton and Flamborough Head.

The cruises, which sail from Bridlington Harbour aboard the MV Yorkshire Belle, will take place on July 16 and 23 and August 13, and are suitable for the whole family.

These cruises give passengers the chance to get a close up view of Bempton’s colony of gannets.

Jo Symon, a volunteer at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, said: “Gannets are the most glorious of all of the seabirds that come here. They are sleek and graceful with their two metre average wingspan, and to see a gannet dive gracefully and effortlessly into the sea at up to 60 miles per hour never ceases to take my breath away.

“Gannets are also the most romantic of birds – they pair for life and have the most touching courtship rituals including intertwining their necks and preening themselves when they meet again after having been separated over the winter months.”

Passengers may also have encounters with a range of fish and marine mammals such as seals and porpoises. As well as gannets, the cliffs will still be home to other seabirds such as kittiwakes, fulmars, herring gulls and shags.

Kim Smales, RSPB Cruise Co-ordinator, said: “In addition to seeing the thousands of gannets which are still nesting on Bempton cliffs, we hope (although of course we cannot guarantee) the special ‘chum’ – a rotting fish food delicacy for gannets – will persuade them to start diving for food around the boat.

RSPB seabird experts from the East Yorkshire local group will be on board to answer any questions, plus a full range of refreshments and amenities is available on the Yorkshire Belle. To book, call the RSPB Seabird Cruise Line on 01262 422211.