On board Silurian
Silurian is HWDTs research and
Most weeks April through October she is either monitoring
the waters of the west coast of Scotland for whales, dolphins, and
porpoises, or serving as a floating classroom for one of the many Argyll
island primary and secondary schools.
log below to find out what Silurian and her crew have been up to each
week and all about the whales, dolphins and porpoises they spot!
To find out about the latest marine life sightings spotted elsewhere,
If you would like to send the crew an e-mail with your questions click here.
Click here to view the Silurian Log archive.
Thursday 21 July
A fantastic day!!!
We left early from Gairloch, after a few days of rain, high winds and engine trouble. For the first time in the week the sea was calm and despite the low mist slightly obscuring our vision we all had high hopes of getting some of our first sightings.
As early as the first watch some of us had spotted Porpoises, although they only stuck around for a few minutes we had high hopes for more!!! Volunteer crew took to both the crow’s nest and the bow, adding to our spotting power and by 11am we found ourselves in amongst a group of three fantastic Minke Whales!! Our patience had been rewarded!! They came brilliantly close to us, and after watching them for about half an hour they treated us to lunge feeding! Awesome!!!!!!!
All of us were riding high, and within less than an hour we came across what we briefly mistook for a pair of Porpoises, although on closer inspection we realised it was a beautiful Basking Shark! We stayed with it for a while, trying to get some mug shots before again moving on. We quickly came across yet another wee guy, his nose peaking out of the water as he fed with his stunning white mouth wide open and visible under the water.
What a lucky day!! But there was even more in store! Again, with little time to recover from the excitement of the previous sightings we saw a huge fin! It was a beast of a Basking Shark, almost double the size of the others sighted. He swam round the boat in his docile manner, letting us get some awesome snaps of his dorsal fin.
But, believe it or not, the best was yet to come!!! All of a sudden we spotted another three Basking Sharks……………..and then a Minke Whale………………..and then some Porpoises……………followed by more Minkes………………….some more Basking Sharks………….. they just kept on coming!! The Minkes were barely twenty metres away and lunge feeding too! Amazing!! All in all there were three Minkes, but it really did seem like more, they were popping up here, there and everywhere before some deep diving and surprising us again for more fantastic views. Awesome!!!!!!
With everyone completely satisfied, we continued forward. We headed back towards Skye, and eventually into the Sound of Raasay where we were to anchor for the night. In the final stretches of the day the sun came out, the icing on the cake for a breathtaking day!
Log by Fiona
After another heavy night’s dancing courtesy of the Hebridean Celtic Festival, we were a little slow to leave Stornoway – complete with newly acquired ship’s cat (cuddly toy!). The plan was to sail over to Loch Laxford, a beautiful sea loch, on the west coast of mainland Scotland. Conditions were pretty rough (although they were great for sailing!) and we all resigned ourselves to a tough day of difficult sighting conditions and plenty of bruises…
Unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side and we didn’t have any cetacean sightings throughout the day, although we did have plenty of wonderful sea bird encounters – including some seagulls feasting on a lion’s mane jellyfish (very brave!). Just in time for tea, we sailed into Loch Laxford – all very weary and looking forward to a quiet evening and an early night.
Log by: Penny
After a heavy night out with half the crew managing to score tickets at the Hebridean Celtic Festival - Runrig supported by the Peat Bog Faeries, and the other half settling for McNeils live music night, we set of towards Loch Shell south of Stornway to look for cetacean sightings. The weather started off overcast with some wind but as we headed further south the swell increased and the visual observation was abandoned at the mast. A couple of Grey Seals were sighted but unfortunately for us the whales were playing a different game!!
As we headed back to Stornoway Marcus spotted something in the water, everyone’s hopes rose as we waited for another sighting, then it came, a Risso’s Dolphin breaching just infront of the bow. The rest of the volunteers emerged from the cabins but the sighting was only brief, as soon as it appeared, it was gone again.
We tied up for the night again in Stornoway and some of the female crew once again headed for the showers and the shops. Dinner followed by the preparation for heading out to the Hebridean Celtic Festival for the last night!!
Log by: Rosie