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.
Friday 12th Thursday 2011
Anchorage: Bunessan, Isle of Mull
Distance travelled: 46.0NM
Today we stepped away from our consistent 1 harbour porpoise 1 seal sighting; sighting 1 harbour porpoise and 2 seals! The weather conditions are still proving quite challenging however the hydrophone is consistently detecting porpoises, 19 detections today. Marine mammal sightings today may have totalled 3 however we had another sighting that lasted over an hour and was in rather close proximity to the boat. Distance: 3 inches, Bearing: 0° and No heading. A dragonfly was resting on Rachael’s knee. This amused all onboard as cameras were whipped out and many pictures taken.
We anchored in Bunessan and attempted to have a run ashore; Emma had tempted us with talk of hotels with showers and pubs with… drink? Alas, we did not make it ashore (technical hitch) and instead engaged in some card games to keep us busy until dinner time. The game had no actual winner just a sorry loser – we’ll not confess to all the scores except that the skipper came off badly more than once! Food highlights today included gorgeous walnut apple and date cake, blts or chlts and messy but none the less scrumptious fajitas – delicious!
Thursday 11th August 2011
Anchorage: West Loch Tarbet, Isle of Jura
Distance travelled: 52.9NM
We left Loch Spelve for a second time to greeted by weather a lot apocalyptic than the forecast. Our route for the day had us performing transects (posh zig-zagging) across between Mull, Jura and Colonsay. The weather continued to improve and a sweep stake was held as to when the sun would show itself. Guesses ranged from the frankly optimistic to Olivia’s “never”! The winner was Leanne by a margin of a mere 4 minutes when the sun was finally seen at 13:24. We zagged and we zigged and finally made our anchorage of Loch Tarbert on Jura. There was another problem with dodgy bottoms meaning we had to go through the narrows into the Inner Loch in search of something to put the anchor into. Despite the much better sighting conditions and a full day’s effort our sightings were limited to one seal and one brief glimpse of a porpoise; leading the volunteers to rechristen the HWDT, Hebridean Seal and Porpoise Trust! Rosie tried some more fishing whilst Leanne made pate from last night’s Mackerel.
After our lasagne we swatted up on seabirds as Tim and Emma fiddled with their bilges. After more anchor shenanigans when the GPS led us to believe we were adrift we all settled down in our tranquil anchorage and hoped that tomorrow the Trust would earn back the W & D in its name!
Wednesday 10th August 2011
chorage: Loch Spelve
Distance travelled: 12.9NM
After a great night’s sleep on a calm surface we set off out of the loch into a feisty sea which ran against our course leading to many interesting peaks and troughs. A few team members felt queasy but all agreed the best action is to go out on deck and concentrate on what’s going on around us. Tim then decided to turn back to the loch due to poor visibility and the nearest mooring otherwise being 5 hours away on Jura. A misty view and plenty of caplets led to an enjoyable time at the mast once off effort and we returned to Loch Spelve none the worse for wear.
Leanne made hot drinks including excellent hot chocolate and we enjoyed BLTs from the galley. Games then ensued with Olivia inviting us to research and present ourselves as a species of wildlife which made for interesting and educational amusement- Hazel choosing her all-time favourite Orca – she was able to write most of her notes from her own knowledge! Other choices were the ptarmigan, manatees, sea squirts, sea hares and Mono illustrated his choice of the walrus excellently by positioning cotton buds under his lips which gave all great amusement. We then resorted to debating the question- “which vegetable would you use in combat to defeat your enemy” there were suggestions of frozen strawberries and carrots, shaped into spikes. Pineapple was among the most popular too.
Later we enjoyed Emma’s wonderful carrot cake. Leanne caught a mackerel off the boat and we sang songs (10 green bottles with a descant) to keep a curious common seal entertained as it was taking a good look at us.
Chicken and mango thai curry with marmite roast potatoes, salad and fruit crumble then followed and Mono kindly shared his wonderful cherry vodka. We ran out of desert spoons at this point so Rach volunteered to eat her pudding using the serving spoon and Tim using the ladle- giving us cause for concern in case it got stuck. Despite the mist and rain it was a great day- getting to know each other better and relaxing. Tim tells us tomorrow we will go across to Jura/ Islay in spite of the weather. A proposed cook book of recipes cooked on board received interest and will help others to cook with confidence!
Tuesday 9th August 2011
Anchorage: Loch Spelve, Isle of Mull
Distance travelled: 35.4 NM
Late start to surveying today for the new crew of the Silurian due to a slight technical hitch while we waited for the engineer to come out. Rosie won the bet for closest guess to how much fuel we needed- 1200 litres! We took off from Tobermory and entered an unofficial boat race down the sound of Mull. It appeared that every yacht in the area was out. We also passed five ferries so it was a pretty busy day for passing boats.
Hazel managed the first sighting of the day- an unidentified seal that peeped out of the water and then entertained us with a back dive. Our next sighting was a porpoise, both back and fin, which was pretty exciting however we never managed to see any more. Between these two sightings we learned how to use the acoustic data and Olivia provided the best explanation of snapping shrimp- rice crispies! Emma made a lovely lunch of soup for us and a little later on in Loch Linnhe a common seal became our last sighting of the day. As the day wore on we headed towards our anchorage Easedale which had an unfortunately rough bottom meaning we couldn’t anchor there after all. Emma our talented professional chef provided us with rolls and bolognaise sauce. This resulted in us doubling back on ourselves to anchor in Loch Spelve. The scenery around here is beautiful with rolling hills on each side and lovely still water. Rachael and Leanne volunteered to make dinner and proceeded to chop potatoes and put the sausages on but disaster struck when they had to vacate the galley due to large swells making the boat roll. However despite the interruption they pulled off a great dinner of toad in the hole. Hazel provided dessert in the form of chocolate brownies and skipper Tim took one for the team and polished off seven brownies to save the last two going in the fridge.