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.
29th September 2009
Date: Tuesday 29th September
Position: 56°37’.179N, 06°03’.949W
Distance travelled: 32.4NM
The best was saved for last...weatherwise...partly sunny most of the day, calmer winds and seas, and no rain. Our clothing actually did dry out some for a change. The landscape was more visible and breathtaking. Again there were a few sightings of seals and porpoise, along with jellyfish at the sides of the boat, but the whales continued to elude us. The calm seas and our captain brought us safely back to Tobermory where we now clean and prepare the boat for another group’s journey. Tonight’s dinner will be another delicious creation using some of what remains on hand, and it’s already been announced there will be cheese and bacon buddies for breakfast. What a good trip this has been in spite of the weather! ........
28th September 2009
Date: Monday 28th September
Position: 57°03’.299N, 06°29’.475W
Distance travelled: 50.1NM
Today was an occasion (the forecast said occasional rain and it never stopped). They did however get the wind right and we had a good reach all day averaging more than 7 knots. Visibility was the worst of the trip and sightings were difficult, but Arctic Skuas were seen for the first time and lots more Fulmars than other days. On arrival in Canna harbour the crew declined shore leave - they had had enough rain, and the probability of there being a pub averaged zero. Nienke volunteered to cook a superb dinner with Jane on delicious crumble pudding duty. Although photo identification pictures this trip are lacking, after dinner, we tried to identify the bottlenose dolphins seen in the previous trip (and a quick look at the killer whales sighted then as well). All together we managed to identify 3 of the 5 dolphins and we think one is a new individual not in the HWDT catalogue yet. More detailed analysis will confirm this (or not).
27th September 2009
Date: Sunday 27th September
Anchorage: Loch Maddy, North Uist
Position: 57°35’.564N, 07°09’.151W
Von wegen Knochentrocken! Bone dry not so! Strong winds filled with rain put paid to the idyll of warm weather. However, we still have the same number of people on board as we started with. Important protocol in respect of sightings. Ian must warn the cetacean population when he is going to the Heads so that a sighting can be made by the rest of the observers. The two major sightings so far during this trip (the common dolphins and 4 harbour porpoises) have been made when he is below making himself comfortable. Comment: Ian is resisting the suggestion that he confines himself to the heads. Ancient wisdom of the day: on whatever side you stand you will get the wind directly into the face. Appendix: with the wind goes the spray. Murphy’s Law: there is no waterproof suit. Preparing dinner exciting was following the rescue actions on the VHF radio of two ground fishing vessels. At the start of the day, it was an option to go to the loch where the accident has happened. However, it was decided not to go there; a fortunate decision. Luckily all turned out to be reasonably well for stranded boat and crew.
Editors note: Stornoway coastguard/Met Office was only slightly off with their forecast. Yesterday evening they brought us the very happy news that weather was going to improve to force 3-4 from the West, perfect conditions to head south on the east coast of the outer Hebrides. Unfortunately, the updated morning forecast was very disappointing with again a forecasted 5-7. To be honest, weather was as bad (if not worse) than the previous days, and we almost continuously measured force 8 from SW throughout the day.... ; even worse than the prediction.........A lot of bashing into waves, rain and wind. Chapeau for all crew on board for coping with this!!!!!
26th September 2009
Date: Saturday 26th September
Anchorage: Procapool, Harris
Position: 57°50’.653N, 06°45’.024W
Again 5 to 7 SW. After the stars in evening the clouds were back on time in the morning but left some space for the sun to light the mountains. From the quiet loch the Silurian took us to the more interesting waters naval wise. Some gusts to Force 8 made the angle of heel reach over 45 degrees (at least that’s what it felled like, measurements on our most heeled over video only showed an angle of about 30 degrees). The route brought us from east of Skye, via the north of Skye towards the Outer Hebrides. Just before we headed into the anchor place we were starting to get excited about some dolphins who decided to check on us. They (the dolphins) may write into their diary that these life forms on board appear to have trouble staying on their feet in a 5 to 7. We logged 3 common dolphins, bearing 090, 20 metres, heading 270, playing with the boat. Unfortunately they remained only for a very short time near the boat and soon disappeared into the waves. We got to the destination without more distractions and where welcomed again by a seal. In the absence of a Pub a suggestion to a short walk around a Loch on shore. The day was then finished with a superb meal (after some chopping). We are looking forward to the 3 to 4 from the north/northwest tomorrow.