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 4th May 2006
Thursday 4th May 2006
We woke up to a glorious morning on the Loch, and set off for a fantastic sail out past Ardnamurcham Point, up towards Bo Fascadale, and then back towards Tobermory via Ardmore Point. The wind was up, and we hit a glorious 10 knots and we sailed through the sunshine. We couldn’t keep the rain off forever, though, and by the time we came alongside in Tobermory, the rain was truly spectacular. The trip was over, and it was time to give Silurian a top-to-toe clean. With loud tunes on the iPod, every surface was soon gleaming. The HWDT education team came onboard to talk to the volunteers about plankton. Much fun was had fishing around in the harbour and examining the catch under a microscope. So this is what whales eat! Meanwhile we had a visit from some of our funders at Scottish National Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was great to be able to show them around the boat, and tell them about the work we’re doing.
By now the rain, far from slackening off, was shaping up to be the west coast’s own monsoon. After a shower and change (yes, there is life outside oilskins!), we were all off up to the Western Isles Hotel for a lovely supper, and then to the pub for questionable salsa dancing and a few games of pool.
Friday 5th May 2006
Farewell and thank you to the volunteers for a great trip! Have a safe journey, and hope we’ll see you again in the future. And Mohamed, will that souvenir tartan bonnet still seem like a good idea back in Egypt?!
Susannah – Scientific Officer, UK
Wednesday 3rd May 2006
Anchorage: Loch Na Druma Buidhe
Position: 56° 39.2N 005° 55.5 West
Distance surveyed: 47 nautical miles (nmi)
This morning after a some what early start! we headed out to sea for surveying. The weather had somewhat calmed the night before however, it was again heavily overcast with a steady sheet of rain. As we left Tobermory with our sails up, half way down the channel towards sea the wind really began to blow like crazy and it was really rough going; we hadn’t even reached open water yet! We were again hanging on very tightly as the yacht was at a steep tilt to the left with the gales hitting us from starboard!
So Duncan our skipper decided that this wasn’t a ideal day to go into open water as the passing storm with these heavy gales hadn’t passed through this part of the isles yet. We took a a right turn and went up a new route a channel called Loch Sunart. It turned out to be an excellent decision as very surprisingly the storm cleared and the wind died considerably and it was a turned out to be the start of a fabulous day for both sailing and surveying!
Half way up this Loch, nearly all on deck were lucky to see 3 - 4 Harbour Porpoises…..totally amazing!!! And it drizzled now and then but we got a lot of sunshine too! And that’s not all we all got to see several seals in the water either relaxing on their backs enjoying a nibble, swimming or just taking a cautious peek at us pass by… The lot of us even came across a small Isle on our way back down the Loch with a small colony of 7 – 8 Common Seals basking in the sunshine and numerous variety of birds nesting there too.
Later towards evening we came into anchorage at Loch Na Druma Buidhe which if I may say for everyone is one of the most scenic and tranquil of our anchorages yet amongst the various Isles of Scotland…Hats of to our Skipper!
Here taking advantage of the lovely surprisingly warm and clear weather, we volunteers put on out Earth Watch t-shirts and took a group picture; which no doubt will be a very memorable one. Can I also add that all of us on the boat came on deck and enjoyed an awesome sunset too.
Later Stephanie, Teresa, Gayal and myself prepared the evening meal and dessert which was enjoyed by all.
On days like these, one would wish to be amongst these Isles and abundant wildlife always.
Jonathan – Karachi, Pakistan.
Monday 1st May 2006
Anchorage: Tobermory, Isle Of Mull
Position: 56°37.200 N 006°03.700 W
Distance surveyed: 50 nmi
Today, May Day – Labour Holiday!! And we got a 1 hour grace time to sleep extra!! Ha Ha Ha. We had to be happy with that only - We weren’t getting an off today!
Well, we started today a little pessimistic as the forecast was problematic weather ahead with strong gale force winds and rain etc…It began raining on the first watch….everyone was quite a bit gloomy! Praise the Lord however, as it turned out to be a wonderful day with very low wind and by early afternoon the sun showed its face and it was glorious. We tended to do a lot of sailing today too in the second half of the day as the weather was holding perfect.
It was hard luck today too as far as sightings were concerned as the dolphins & whales eluded us. We were however lucky on the hydrophones picking up again numerous Harbour Porpoise’s clicks & got to see a lot of different species of birds feeding on the water; a lot of activity witnessed today on and above the waves.
Today all three girls ( Marjolaine, Stephanie & Teresa ) really put their courage to the forefront and climbed up to the ‘Crow’s Nest’… Mohamed too climbed up to the high perch. He! He! Tomorrow Gayal and myself will have to pull up the spirit to do the same after all it’s a one time experience! It felt good to touch port at Tobermory where we last began our journey from and it was so satisfying to the soul to touch ‘Firm & familiar ground’!!
Also Peter who had joined us a few days earlier disembarked and Susanna the new Scientific Officer who will be replacing Marjolaine’s post joined us on the boat. She was introduced to all by Duncan and then given a tour of the yacht while dinner was being prepared by Rob. Overall it was a extremely well spent day.
Jonathan – Karachi, Pakistan.
Sunday 30th April 2006
Anchorage: Loch Breachacha, off the Island Of Coll
Position: 56° 34.5 North - 6° 37.5 West
Distance surveyed: 60.0 nmi
We started the day with a quick breakfast and it was rather cloudy. We knew that we will have the chance to see some whales and porpoises because we were going to pass by areas were they are known to be at this time of the year. We managed to see 2 porpoises and heard many more on the hydrophone, other than that Peter saw a whale but he was not really sure about that, as he only managed a quick glance.
Later on, we got some pretty rough weather with strong winds blowing at us and some rain, which gave the day some excitement. Duncan and Rob managed to get the sails out and we continued sailing for the rest of the day. We even went a bit further than planned to get a better chance of seeing some other porpoises, sadly we were not lucky.
As we were getting close to our anchorage spot, we found out that the wind was going to change course late at night and so the crew had to put two anchors down so we wouldn’t get blown away by the wind, this was not easy and they had to put a lot of effort so we can have a safe night. After that we enjoyed a lovely dinner with Lasagne, coleslaw and some bean burgers and everyone was so tired that they went straight to bed. Tomorrow we’re going back to Tobermory were we started the trip to drop off Peter and hopefully the weather is going to change by the morning which will enable us to see more porpoises and whales. But if doesn’t it’s always an adventure to sail on rough seas aboard the Silurian.
Mohamed – Egypt.
Picture: A nice pitiwake.
Saturday 29th April 2006
Anchorage: East of Erraide
Position: 56° 17.3 North - 6° 21.4 West
Distance surveyed: 44.0 nmi
Busy day today with a lot of sightings !! We sailed off early enough from our last night’s dock in Scalasaig and in the first shift we had a seal next to us then later on 2 porpoises visually and at least 15 on acoustic monitoring throughout the day. The weather was nice (even for Scottish standards!!) and were constantly on 5 to 7 knots but sails down since we were going against wind. During the day, we saw again a lot of birds and amazing landscape on the passing by outside Jura, Colonsay and back in to Erraide.
Once we arrived at Erraide, Peter now my new temp sous – chef helped me prepare some Greek cuisine. While this was stewing hapilly, we got on the dingy and went on shore to check the view and spotted a couple of curious seals that are outside the Silurian as I write this. After the dinner (hope they liked it ….) we had an amazing presentation on audio identification hearing cetaceans sounds by Marjolaine. Everyone crashed after that with whatever energy it was left but very content!!
Stelios – Greece
Picture: from left to right Rob (First mate and all around nice guy) with seadogs Jonathan , Gyal, Maria-Theresa, Stelios. Guess who had sightings….)