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.
28th May 2010
Anchorage: North Bay, Barra
Position: 57°00.291N, 07°22.489W
Distance travelled: 39.9NM
The night brought some swell and a gentle rocking from the Atlantic. Surrounded by clouds, the morning looked quite grey and the rain come quite soon after leaving our nice anchorage. Nevertheless, we saw a basking shark while passing through Gunna Sound. Interesting were the many diving gannets from various ages. Soon it was dry again and it remained dry for the rest of the day, with clouds passing us by in the distance. Excitement rose when a big breaching animal was spotted about a 1000m ahead. Quickly we headed to the area the animal was sighted, but unfortunately it was not seen again; species ID remained with a best guess of a basking shark or a minke whale. From the northern end of the Sound we crossed the Minch towards the northern end of Barra. During the crossing no cetaceans were seen (although few porpoises were picked up acoustically), but bird identification was getting there (stiff wing bird......fulmar, and a few bonxies were seen chasing gulls). Also no whistles of dolphins were heard on the headphones. When entering the calm bay, we were greeted by some seals and birds of prey. While part of the crew remained onboard to make preparations for dinner, others went ashore on Flodday summiting Fuiay. Dinner was finished when coming back (with a very helpful back seat driver in the kitchen), a lovely green curry!
27th May 2010
Anchorage: Crossapol Bay, Coll
Position: 56°34.848N, 06°39.551W
Distance travelled: 44.5NM
Through Gunna sound to begin the day, hopeful of crossing to the Outer Hebrides if conditions are not too rough. We quickly encountered a small basking shark and soon afterwards a much larger one. This caused great excitement among the volunteers and a little difficulty for the skipper as he tried to give us the best sight of the animals in a narrow & shallow channel, but it helped that the hydrophone was not out in the water. A few minutes out into the Hebridean Sea the day`s plan is amended to a circumnavigation of Tiree, aiming to avoid the worst of the weather. Though conditions were still a bit lively, no one succumbed to the dreaded mal de mer, and we even managed an hour or so of nice sailing once back in the lee of Tiree. Again, despite a lot of bird activity, including foraging terns, we were short of cetaceans. Until ... Cal saw a cetacean. Unfortunately it only surfaced once and species ID could not be determined. Later, a series of shrieks from Jet seemed to indicate something of interest. It transpired that as he put down his binoculars after a scan of the distant water a dorsal fin had appeared a metre or so away. When asked for bearing & distance of this “sighting” all he could manage was “it`s here,it`s here” and point at his feet. A nice sighting of a porpopise, which was also detected on the hydrophone. After a presentation on seabird identification, a trip ashore for some and an excellent Swedo-Germanic effort on British sausages brought the day to a close.
26th May 2010
Anchorage: Gott Bay, Tiree
Position: 56°31.139N, 06°47.944W
Distance travelled: 32.1NM
After a long and “exciting” stay in Tobermory everybody came punctually to the Rendezvous Point to be welcomed by a wonderful and, so far, nice Crew. After getting our “light” luggage on board and “wellie testing” we were presented to the boat and our home for the next twelve days. A real challenge putting our stuff in drawers and cupboards, but we met the challenge and eat a wonderful dinner cooked by our First Mate Tom. After an interesting presentation from Nienke, our Biodiversity Officer, we could hardly wait to go to bed.
Next day, we left Tobermory in late morning after remaining training and information and last minute shopping. The weather was nice when we left but when we got out in open water, the waves got bigger. When Skipper Dave decided to change direction, the weather was once again beautiful but we didn’t spot any harbour porpoises and grey seals until late afternoon.
The feeling of freedom whilst out at sea is striking, you really feel that you’re alive. It’s one of the best feelings you could have.
Now we’re anchored in what is said to be the sunniest place in the UK and it seems to be correct because the sun is shining on us at the time being. We’re waiting for Phil to serve the dinner, it smells wonderful after a long and exciting day at sea.
12-22 May 2010
In the last 2 weeks, Silurian was involved in specialised surveys to investigate detailed fine-scale harbour porpoise distribution in a high tidal area which is of special interest for renewable (tidal) energy. Monitoring was conducted between Mallaig and north of Kyle Rhea, a relatively small area compared to our normal surveys. Researchers from the Scottish Association for Marine Science, St Andrews University and HWDT were involved with the research which included various challenging research techniques. Thanks everyone for the hard work and the good time!