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.
Friday 19th August
Location: Port Ellen, Islay
Distance travelled: 41 miles
Weather: Sun with some cloud and a bonnie breeze
With another early dawn rise we all had to sadly depart the glories of Gigha. All but one as Jules was the next to leave, due to work commitments, and further reduce our numbers on board. We did however have our suspicions that she was in fact jumping ship after falling for the life-jacket clad Yorkshire terrier on the neighbouring yacht! Either that or she was away to set up residence on her remote island of choice.
So eight eager crew/volunteers set out on the route to Rathlin. We headed southwards in the sun along the coast of the Mull of Kintyre always in hope of some sporadic sightings of cautious but curious cetaceans. With another morning of having our bellies filled to the brim by the never ending flow of food on board it came that point in the day when we all seemed to doze off on deck. We were soon shaken from our slumbers though with the holler from Fi up front, that a couple of bottlenose dolphins were darting by. The flurry of activity on deck that followed, as everyone tried to get a glimpse of the animals, almost landed most of Marcus’ freshly made soup in the sea. Soup intact though, and everyone satisfied after the sighting of the day, eyes were earnestly peeled thereafter. However with Ireland in sight some may say it may just have been the luck of the Irish.
After a further course change we headed north east in the direction of Islay. After a long day of sun and sailing, another evening of civilisation awaited us and the promise of a bar supper… to be continued upon return from our adventures in Port Ellen.
Log by: Josephine
Thursday 18th August
Location: Ardminish, Isle of Gigha
Weather: Sunny skies, occasionally cloudy, enough wind for a wee sail!
As I listened to the torrential rain last night, I did wonder whether today would be the same wet and dreich affair as yesterday. It was to my surprise, and I’m sure everyone else’s, then, that we woke to a lovely sunny and calm day! As we motored out of our anchorage at Cuan in mirror like seas, our spirits were lifted, especially when we had our first sightings of harbour porpoises.
We had a number of other porpoise sightings throughout the day and, although most of them were quite a distance away we were able to pick the majority up on the hydrophone. We surveyed the Sound of Jura down to Craighouse (on Jura) before swinging across to the little island of Gigha, at last able to get the sails up.
After finally choosing an anchoring spot that would hold (thanks, Dave!) in Ardminish Bay most of us went ashore to get a shower while Chief Galley Engineer Marcus got to work, creating yet another ace dish. After a gorgeous sunset we popped ashore again to sample the local hospitality before heading back to the boat under the brightest, fullest moon I’ve ever seen!
Log by Penny
Wednesday 17th August
Location: Cuan Sound (East Coast of Luing)
Distance travelled: 28 miles
Weather: Rain, wind, some more rain, bit more wind, did I mention rain?!
We left Loch Spelve just after 9am for Dunstaffnage Marine Base to pick up some technical kit for the computers and to drop off Juliet. Some interesting weather to test the volunteers stomachs and sea legs! Needless to say some of us (me!) turned a deeper shade of green down below deck and had to brave the rain and the cold to stop from losing our lunch! After leaving Dustaffnage minus Juliet, we headed down the Firth of Lorne, experiencing yet more stomach-churning weather. Spotting only two porpoises and a plastic bag, all of us volunteers did well just to stay up-right and there was probably loads of cetaceans swimming about but windscreen wipers were needed to see further than 100 metres! We found a quiet and calm spot to moor for the night off the east coast of Luing and, despite the weather and feelings of nausea, everyone still has smiles on their faces, eagerly awaiting the rest of the trip. Hopefully with some sunshine!
Log by: Fiona H (Fi)
Tuesday 16th August
Location: Loch Spelve
Distance travelled: 24 miles
Weather: Mist clearing to sunny intervals. Very little wind.
Onboard for this trip are Davey the skipper, Marcus the first mate, Juliet the Biodiversity Officer, Penny the Science Officer for the trip and six volunteers; Fi, Fiona, Jo, Sharon, Abi and Jules from WWF.
We left Tobermory about 1pm after the early morning mist had lifted and we had stocked up with food for the trip. We had only got round Calve Island, perhaps a half hour into the trip and we had our first sightings – a very curious couple of porpoises which allowed us a good look at them – good practice for our rookie volunteers! As we got down to the serious business of training and sandwich making, the day brightened further and the sun came out. We had a few more porpoise sightings as we made our way down the Sound of Mull towards our anchorage for the night in Loch Spelve, before a very special sighting of the non-cetacean kind… Eagle-eyed Abi in the crow’s nest spotted a couple of white-tailed sea eagles just off Grasspoint on Mull!! We watched these beautiful birds for a good while before resuming the passage into Loch Spelve. Soon after, we were all fed and settled for the night – looking forward to another week dotting about the beautiful Hebridean islands – it beats the office any day!!
Log by: Penny