Silurian Archives
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On board Silurian

Crew of the SilurianSilurian is HWDTs research and education vessel.

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.

Read the 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, click here.

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 11th May and Saturday 12th May 2007

Date: Saturday 12th May 2007

Anchorage: Isle of Oronsay

Position: 56° 00’.980N 006° 13’.300W

Distance Travelled: 44 NM

For those who extracted themselves from their bunks an hour earlier than normal a trip ashore and a walk around the raised beaches of Loch Tabert was the order of the day.

Breakfast was taken under stunning sunshine. Both anchors were hauled and a new day’s survey commenced. The gorgeous sun did not leave us for the whole day. And as I sit writing this at 9.20pm the sun has only just disappeared below the peach and pink horizon of Oronsay. Although the surveying conditions were good, our cetacean friends refused to play the game. The only one who made itself visible was seen by Katie.

We initially headed along the west coast of Islay heading for the Rhinns, but failed to meet it face-to-face due to the tide pushing against us. So we never got to hear its mighty roar. Maybe just as well…During this time, Russell had decided today was the day to scale the heights of the crow’s nest (how could he have faced his family otherwise?). His resolve was briefly tested at the final part of the ascent (climbing into the nest itself), but once perched, he was as happy as a sea eagle surveying his kingdom. In fact, the difficulty was more getting him back down again – was it because he was enjoying it so much, or was it the deathly fear of the descent? Or was he just frozen solid to the mast? The lure of cake did the trick in the end and we finally managed to entice him back to the deck. We changed course and carried on up towards Colonsay, during which time we are pleased to report Christian successfully identified two razorbills.

We dropped anchor for the night by the beautiful beach on Oronsay. Going ashore, we walked up Beinn Oronsay, which gave us a cracking panoramic view of the day’s survey area. The walkers rejoined Katie on the beach (who had been on a shell-collecting mission), to be greeted by A GIANT OTTER running down the beach. Yes, it was MASSIVE. The size of a SEA MONSTER. Well, anyway, it was a pretty big otter at any rate. Maybe it was running in the direction of Silurian because it could smell the wafting aromas of the curry Paul was cooking for us back on board. It was delicious, and brought an extra bit of colour (if that were needed) to our windswept faces.

Swedish word for the day – ‘grönsaker’ meaning ‘vegetables’

The volunteers and crew of Silurian

Date: Friday 11th May 2007

Anchorage: Loch Tarbert, Jura

Position: 55° 58’.050N 005° 58’.550W

Distance Travelled: 52 NM

The day started with an unexpected easterly wind, which meant that the boat was bouncing through much of the night. However, we were still attached to the mooring which we had chosen the night before.

We departed from the mooring, left the southern sound of Gigha and set the sails. We reaped the wild Hebridean wind and surged across the Sound of Jura surveying keenly, although to little avail in the visual department. We spotted one lonely porpoise, but its noisy friends were chirping merrily underwater, as we were earwigging on their ultrasonic utterances using the hydrophone. Approaching the Sound of Islay, the winds abated (i.e. died a death), the donkey was engaged again and the sails were furled.

The crew was concerned to see Russell’s nose twitching like a rabbit’s as we entered the Sound of Islay. They needn’t have worried as it was just the gentle wafting aromas of the Caol Ila distillery – or was it the Bunnahabhain which was further down the Sound? When we didn’t stop for some “samples”, the only thing that could pacify Russell was Mat’s freshly baked flapjack, an fine alternative to his scones.

Silurian headed north out of the Sound of Islay and past the prominent paps of Jura, modestly shrouded in mist, and into the entrance of Loch Tarbert. An extended tour of the inner navigational intricacies of the Loch was followed by the crew’s big love-in with anchors and kelp. The volunteers visited the famous Loch Tarbert raised beaches while Susie and Gen cooked up another enormous meal for us. But surprisingly (or not) there will unfortunately be no leftover sausage sandwiches tomorrow. The crowning glory was the second spectacular sunset in a row.

Swedish word for the day – ‘klädnypor’ meaning ‘clothes peg’

The Earthwatch volunteers

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, 28 Main Street, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland, PA75 6NU Contact Us