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.
Monday 4th June 2012
morning of our final day surveying dawned, we left Craggaig Bay in glorious
sunshine. Spirits were high as we hoped for a good sighting. As we went past
Lunga Island, the puffins trying to take off provided much amusement. The shout
came in "sighting, not sure what, think it was a sunfish"! The boat circled to try
and go back to it but all we could find was a large sheet of newspaper… This
was a bit disappointing but the observers are keeping to the sunfish story. The
rest of the trip back was full of porpoises and seals and the weather was beautiful. Now back in Tobermory the boat is looking spick and
span and we’re looking forward to a nice shower on dry land followed by a
lovely evening meal where we don’t have to do the dishes!
Sunday 3rd June 2012
glorious day as we set off on our last full day of surveying with high hopes.
The morning was pretty quiet on the surveying front but in the afternoon a
group of common dolphins were spotted splashing around in the distance so we
went to investigate. They were quite co-operative and played around the bow of
the boat allowing us to get some good footage of them. Later on we were also
surprised to spot bottlenose dolphins which were pestering a local Creel boat
for leftover scraps. This is quite a rare sight as there are only 35
individuals in the Inner Hebrides and we were
lucky enough to see 10 of them. As they headed ashore, the crew launched the
dingy to get a closer shot. Johnson was armed with an underwater camera
attached to a long pole. Screeches of excitement could be heard from the shore
as the dolphins demonstrated their awesome acrobatic abilities right beside the
boat. As much as this was an amazing sight it was also a worry as large bulky
dolphins and small dingy’s don’t go down well together! After this excitement,
it wasn’t long before we reached our anchorage for the night. We decided to go
explore ashore on Ulva but ended up this being a bad idea as the midges were
out in full force! In desperation to escape the midges we followed Emma up a
steep hill to get a good view of the bay. The climb up gave us some well needed
exercise but the way down was more of a challenge being steeper than the way
up. It was very muddy and slippy which resulted in a few slips and slides as we
carefully picked our way down the hillside through the bracken. Our night ended
with a lovely dinner made by the Skipper and the first viewing of Pete’s
footage of the dolphins.
Saturday 2nd June 2012
blustery day that started in Castle bay, Barra. We were informed that a windy morning out on the water lay ahead so kitted up in full waterproofs and lots of
layers. Although the wind had picked up, the weather was still bright and sunny
which was a relief. Plenty of spray meant that within the 5 minutes on the mast, poor Emma and Katie were soaked to the bone… brave
souls! Soon we were detecting lots of common dolphin and harbour porpoises on
the hydrophone so we had our eyes peeled in hope of a sighting. Shortly after a minke whale was sighted in close proximity to the boat, this sparked excitement
throughout the boat. The rest of the day continued to be windy but it was great
fun surfing in the waves. Once we neared Gometra, a few grey seals were
sighted, bobbing their heads up and getting a good look at us. We dropped
anchor in the bay between Gometra and Ulva. Before dinner a few of us went
ashore to stretch our legs after a long day at sea. We climbed to the top of a
hill and were rewarded with a fantastic view of the Tresnish Isles and beyond
with the sun setting in the background.
Friday 1st June 2012
Anchorage: Castlebay, Barra
rocky morning of seeing lots of seabirds, the afternoon picked up, literally!
The wind allowed us to get all the sails up and they stayed up for most of the
day. The morning was brightened even more by the arrival of Emma’s homemade
scones with jam and cream cheese. We heard common dolphins on the hydrophone
but as hard as we tried we didn’t see them. Pete learnt a lesson though about
when not to make tea… 4 cups later and I’m surprised there wasn’t more all over
the floor. Making lunch also made quite a mess of the galley – not mentioning
any names, skipper! As we got closer to Barra, things began to hot up. 6
bottlenose dolphins were seen and then two basking sharks. When we arrived in
Barra, we got a welcome trip ashore for a walk to the dunes or the pub.
Landsickness was prevalent and I’m not sure the walking was in a particularly
straight line. Our night consisted of another game of card’s which Alistair
lost at again, much to his annoyance!! The crew hit the sack while the
volunteers continued the epic battle of cards with much hilarity. Bedtime was
later than expected so plenty supplies of coffee will be required in the
Thursday 31st May 2012
another hearty breakfast we set off for Neist Point. As we departed Loch
Harport the Stornoway Coast Guard gave a warning of a dead whale drifting in
the general area we were heading, we were now on a mission. It did not take
long for the rain to stop and blue skies to appear on the horizon and our 1st
Sighting of the day, a dead Sheep, with a Gull pecking away at its
swollen belly (nice). Moving swiftly on, we reached our turning point off Neist
Point. Heading south now for Canna in glorious sunshine it was down to the
eagle eyes of Olivia and the dead “whale” was spotted. The “whale” turned out
to be a Basking Shark! At least 5m in length and from the state it was in, it
had been dead for sometime! Johnson, our resident Ghoul was off like a shot,
knife in hand to carve off a “sample”, guess who was not getting to cook supper
this we got the sails up much to the obvious glee of the skipper. Not much else
in the way of sightings were made but as we came close to the cliffs of Canna
the bird count went through the roof, why does the computer log not recognise “shed loads” as a legitimate unit of
the walk on Canna most of the party saw a pod of common dolphins passing
offshore. The ones who missed this sight were sampling the beers in the local
café. Names withheld to protect the guilty.
returned to the vessel were another sumptuous feast awaited us.