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,
Wednesday 16th August, 2006
Anchorage: Crag Aig Bay, Ulva
Position: 56°28.000 N 006°13.000 W
Distance surveyed: 44nm
The elusive minke whale appeared today (surfacing and diving again a number of times so we all got to see it.) :-) Claire was disappointed that we didn't smell minke breath, but there was little wind and the sea was calm so it probably didn't carry! After playing the seal game last night we were able to identify a lovely grey seal bobbing its curious head up, and the basking sharks just kept coming. Four volunteers managed to call gannets and fish a shark... until we got close enough to tell the difference! Then Andrew spotted another 3 porpoises and all was forgiven. The sea state and weather worsened as we headed out to survey the 'Dangerous Overfalls' and didn't really get any better until we were close to our anchorage. But bolognese and rice, plus lovely apple crumble and custard, filled us with happiness to end a wonderfully satisfying day. :-)
Last note: Andrew says one of his wishes on the shooting stars last night was to see a minke whale today. He's not telling what the other star was used for...
~ Emma ~
Tuesday 15th August, 2006
Position: 56°19.200 N 006°15.000 W
Distance surveyed: 38nm
So we went to bed with Skipper Dave throwing his bones and seeing a 'shark day'. Dawn saw the volunteers raring to go but the soft Scottish rain was trying to beat its way in through the saloon ceiling, Susie in her 'eat more plankton' T shirt, and wise council from Skipper Dave slowed the pace; breakfast tea turned to mid morning coffee; we sympathised with Rob's cold turkey as his Mars bar pusher had let him down; conversation turned spiritual; the rain stopped and we were off.
The precise plan was to zig and zag a bit in and around, but not over the Torran Rocks. Lo and behold some seals and a couple of porpoises later I spilt my tea as the first shark was spotted. First of many. Difficult to describe 5 or 6 basking sharks as a feeding frenzy, more like a lazy lunch, but an impressive sight, I ran out of shots on the digital. Plankton rules O.K. Total haul for day: 18 Basking sharks, 7 seals, 6 porpoises, loads of assorted seabirds.
So 14 precise meticulously planned course changes later, and a gentle steam round sacred Iona, the view of western Mull towering sea cliffs under amazing big sky to anchor at Bunessan. Rob's got a Mars bar. All's right with the world. Here's to tommorow, Dave says...........
Nigel, All typed with 9 fingers tied behind my back.
Monday 14th August, 2006
Position: 56°17.200 N 006°21.400 W
Distance surveyed: 41nm
A poem about Team V, called: The fastest crew in the West(ern Isles)
Lets start with the core crew, if you ask them a question they'll tell what to do.
We're led by wise skipper Dave,
put on 'Rumours' and he'll be up for a rave.
There's Rob the first mate,
if you mention a Mars bar he'll get into a state.
Then there's science officer Suzie,
who's talks on marine biology don't make you snoozie.
Then there's the volunteers, lets hope these descriptions don't end up in tears.
There's Nigel Henry,
who's renowned as a purveyor of fine dentistry.
And wife Janet,
always keen to ID a Gannet.
And then there's Claire Doe,
if she sees a dunked biscuit she has to shout NO!
There's A-level Emma,
the thought of drowning makes her shiver and tremor.
And Confederate Kyle,
don't call him a Yankee as it might make him rile.
Then there's me,
who's bad jokes make people wish I'd fall into the sea.
We eat drink be merry and grin, all aboard the beautiful boat Silurian.
By Andy, volunteer.
Sunday 13th August, 2006
Anchorage: Loch Tarbert, Jura
Position: 55°57.500 N 005°54.900 W
Distance surveyed: 52nm
Claire's favourite thing today: glowing from a day in the fresh air and a delicious dinner of fish pie we quickly donned wellington boots and set off in the rib to watch the sunset. As we motored towards the beach a seal popped its head up from the water curious what the noise was – a wonderful sight.
Janet's favourite thing today: poor little guillemot struggling to take off from sea and bumping into the waves -- didn't take off.Nigel's favourite things today: Surfing the waves on starboard watch cold thrilled and enjoying the sailing when, as if from nowhere, a bacon sandwich appeared, happiness is a warm bun. And the beauty of the beach sunset at Loch Tarbert totally mindblowing..
Kyle's favourite thing today: Mine was beyond a doubt the calmness and silence of this Loch Tarbert, Isle of Jura, Southern Hebrides. It is literally sooo silent a pin drop can be heard and I don't normally say that. I'm serious and climbing the heathery and rocky hill on the Isle of Jura was beyond a doubt one of my favourite things on this journey, watching the sunset and the rocky beach....this loch is my favourite. The heathery hills was only missing the sound of the bagpipes and the legend of the Isles and my direct ancestor, King Somerled of the Isles and Argyll, founder of Clan Donald, among other ancestors of mine like the Lords of the Isles who ruled the Hebrides and highlands for over 500 years. You can feel the history in the ground when walking, you can hear the sound of the Vikings roar and the feeling of home. Andrew's favourite thing today: Watching Guillemots duck dive and fly underwater, leaving behind a tube of bubbles, all seen from the crows nest.
Emma's favourite thing today: Seeing the graceful back of a porpoise off the port side after hours of waiting for a sighting, sailing through the Sound of Jura. And the sunset over Loch Tarbert from a thousands-of-years-old raised beach...
Saturday 12th August, 2006
Anchorage: Ardminish Bay, Gigha
Position: 55°40.500 N 005°43.700 W
Distance surveyed: 46nm
We started the second day of the trip well by being thrown at 17.5 knots through the Corryvreckan, over tidal upwellings, races, and overfalls, carried by a big yearly tide of 12 knots. We then surveyed the northern reaches of the Sound of Jura in force 4-5 winds and bumpy conditions before mooring in the bay of Ardminish on the Isle of Gigha, where the decent amongst us went ashore to be washed and watered, before returning to Silurian to hear about the relieving of turkeys and the swinging of squirrels.
“The plucky volunteers coped with the conditions valiantly.” (Susie, Science).
Friday 11th August, 2006
Anchorage: Lunga, Sound of Luing
Position: 56°12.700 N 005°42.300 W
Distance surveyed: 36nm
Today we left Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides at about 10:30am. But before we did, we were educated and trained on boat safety, how to spot a cetacean (whales, dolphins, porpoise, etc.) and how to enter scientific data into the computer. We set off going down the Sound of Mull, and then the Firth of Lorn and then ended up near the Isle of Jura. We anchored for the night and evening in a beautiful inlet in Lunga. On our way toward Lunga and the area around it from Tobermory we saw many sightings including 3 sightings of Porpoise, and 3 sightings of Seals, and three Sea Eagles. One porpoise sighting was right in front of the McLean of Duart Castle in South Eastern Isle of Mull. Which in my personal opinion is one of the most beautiful castles in the World! Near this famous castle was Ardtornish Castle which was also stunning. The beauty of the Hebrides is beyond belief. When we anchored in Lunga Isle inlet we were educated on different sea birds and there features and names, we then ate dinner, which included Haggis (Traditional Scottish food) and mashed potato's, and another dish I haven't quite figured out what it was. The Haggis was good, but of course I think the Mashed potato's was the best! So cheers to the cooks including Andrew, Dave (Skipper), etc. Later after dinner we went to the Isle of Lunga and almost all of us climbed its highest hill and got spectacular views and pictures and I fell at least 3 times but it was a rare Island to visit. Not many people get to the visit the Island. Its a Isle with two houses which looked like Holiday cottages. It was a beautiful night and right now it is 22:24pm. The sun has gone down. And we just had tea and hot chocolate. I'm beginning to think that the Britons only care about Tea cause that's all they drink and talk about. That was the day and a tiring one and only the first!
Kyle Porpotage of Manatee County, Florida, USA/Nova Scotia, Canada
Hebridean Heritage, Earthwatch Volunteer
Thursday 10th August, 2006
Position: 56°37.200 N 006°03.700 W
Our Earthwatch volunteers for the next monitoring trip arrived this evening. They are Nigel, Janet, Emma, Andrew and Claire, all from the UK, and Kyle from the USA. We had a lovely evening getting to know each other, and preparing for the voyage ahead. Heading south to Jura and Islay, and very much looking forward to it.
Susie, Science Officer