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.
26th August 2010
Anchorage: Bunessan (Isle of Mull)
Position: 56°19’.312N, 06°16’.007W
Distance travelled: 55.7NM (excluding relocation from Tinkers Hole to Bunessan)
Various seals were seen on the rocks when leaving Loch Tarbert. Almost immediately after starting the survey effort (actively looking out for animals), many basking sharks were sighted at the north entrance of the Sound of Islay, all foraging with their white mouths wide agape, glowing in the green water. So far, the basking sharks are the most frequent observed species of the trip. After a quick looking around and circumnavigating the sharks, we continued our survey route west into the open waters west of Colonsay and Oronsay, from there we went north towards the south side of Mull. Many porpoises were detected and we were fortunate enough to see some of these groups. More basking sharks as well were spotted. With the remaining mussels, a delicious mussel soup was prepared. Before ending the day, we did a full man overboard exercise and discovered that in the meantime other boats had sneaked into the anchorage location we’d chosen for the night. We headed into Tinkers Hole anyway in case there was room for one more only to discover that there were even more boats in there already. A relocation around the Ross of Mull, via the Sound of Iona towards Burnessan occurred, helmed by Shawn. After a Burn’s dinner (including Burn’s poem to address the haggis performed by the skipper), Nienke gave the Bird- ID presentation by role play.
25th August 2010
Anchorage: West Loch Tarbert, Jura
Position: 55°57’.939N, 05°54’.618W
Distance travelled: 49.9NM
Calm flat waters guided us from the south-east side of the Isle of Mull to the north-west side of the Isle of Jura. Some zig-zagging on the way enabling us various views on the scenery, but most interesting were the basking sharks which many of us had not seen before. Taking use of the mirror-like sea conditions, Howard went up into the crow’s nest and spent almost 1,5 hours looking for animals from this higher position, spotting various seals, harbour porpoises and basking sharks. Also some great views of diving gannets close by and we even retrieved a dead gannet for closer inspection. Using the man-overboard manoeuvre and a bucket, we picked up the once beautiful animal which was now smelling and getting decomposed. Due to some problems with the acoustic setup, the protocol was slightly simplified which gave us the opportunity to get into the routine of the data collection and the various tasks involved. Inverlussa Mussels were made for dinner accompanied by a full moon and Roddy’s new constellation Tron 5 glittering away in the night sky above us. The various satellites streaking overhead were very much appreciated by our big-city inhabitants (New York, Tokyo). After dinner, most crew went ashore and visited the bothy and explored a part of the remote landscape while Nienke remained onboard fixing the equipment problems.
23rd and 24th August 2010
Anchorage: Tobermory harbour (23rd); Loch Spelve (Isle of Mull, 24th)
Position: 56°37’.219N, 06°03’.699W (23rd); 56°24’.533N, 05°44’.436W (24th)
Distance travelled: 0NM (23rd); 36.9NM (24th)
After a first evening and morning full with briefings on living on board, data collection and safety, we left Tobermory harbour. “Sighting! Porpoise!” The call we wanted to hear came from the mast as we travelled through the Sound of Mull, our first sighting as a Harbour Porpoise briefly surfaced near the boat and was gone in a flash. There are 9 of us on board the Silurian on this stormy day: 5 volunteers (Howard, Russell, Mari, Allison, Shawn) and 3 crew (John, Roddy, Nienke) and Lucy from the UK Earthwatch office who is with us until we reach Oban. We all met the previous evening, our first night on board, and yet we’d already melded into a laughing, easy-working team.