Silurian Blog

Tuesday 18th July

Published: 19/07/2017

Anchorage: Loch Moidart
Latitude: 56° 48.117N
Longitude: 005° 50.256W
Distance travelled: 47.7 nm
Running total: 100,000km!

We left Loch Harport in glorious sunshine and clear blue skies. visibilty was incredible and we had views all around us...You could see the outer hebrides, the skye ridge and the mountains on the mainland.

After a few hours the wind dropped, and with a near glass sea the sightability was amazing. We spotted loads of porpoises on our way past the small isles, and then a large pod of over 50 common dolphins, scattered in groups all around us. One group came over to bowride Silurian....we had a chance to take photographs and enjoy the spectacle, then the dolphins were suddenly off to join the rest of their pod.

Passing the small isles we moved on to Loch Moidart. The entrance was spectacular, with sharp rocks all around us and an very narrow opening, we all wondered how Ed was going to get Silurian through....we made it, and were welcomed to our anchorage by Golden eagles and a swarm of hundreds of thousands of jellyfish, floating up from the deep! It was awesome! We were all like excitable children (a score of 5 on Sylvias excitablilty scale)...Eilidh and Julia dipped their feet in with the jellies, and Anton gave us all a lesson on jellyfish physiology.

This brings us on to a Silurian milestone: today marks one hundred thousend kilometers of on effort survey!

Thanks to all the great Silurian volunteer citizen scientists who have been part of this work, providing the Trust with an enormous amount of data on cetaceans in the Hebrides. Which in turn can be used to inform conservation management in Scotland. Keep up the good work everyone!

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Monday 17th July

Published: 19/07/2017

Anchorage: Carbost, Loch Harport
Latitude: 57° 18.183N
Longitude: 006° 20.925W
Distance travelled: 51.6nm
Running total: 99, 984km

We awoke with the seals this morning...and as a mother seal fed her pup breakfast, we all sat eating our breakfast too, and drinking vast amounts of coffee.

After breakfast we all quickly got ready to continue our survey....we left Loch Claidh and headed towards Skye. The day was spent crossing the Minch; motoring into strong winds slowed us down considerably and made the crossing rather bumpy. Visibility was poor and large swells meant we spent most of the day trying to keep ourselves (and our binoculars) steady. Although cetacean spotting was near impossible, we saw many interesting seabirds including a storm petrel- another bird species on Antons 'lifetime list'! As the Storm petrel swooped around us, an Arctic Skua fought with a fulmar. We carried on fighting against the winds...

However as we finally reached Skye the clouds parted, the winds died down and the sun shone...revealing the most gorgeous skyeline. Ed and Simon got both sails up and we finally managed to turn off the engine; we sailed peacefully past beautiful rock formations; we could see every detail against the clear blue skies- crags, columns, pillars, caves, tidal marks and scars- from years of battling with the sea.

We eventually reached our anchorage at Carbost at about 7:30pm. We had a magnificent view of the Cuillins as we sailed into Loch Harport- a rare sight!

Unfortunately there were no sightings all day; large waves and a strong glare made cetacean spotting very difficult. Although exhausted by our 10hr shift, we all shone with a sunkissed and salty glow and the stunning landscape made up for the lack of sightings.

The crew made a refreshing salad for dinner which was ready and waiting for the volunteers as we anchored... it was the quickest dinner so far, as The Old Inn was just a stones throw away and we were all desperate for dry land and a pint!

After a relaxed evening in the pub- where Frazer was taught the art of knitting by Sylvia- we all headed back to Silurian and straight to our cabins...

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Sunday 16th July

Published: 17/07/2017

Anchorage: Loch Claidh, Lewis
Longitude: 06°36.1W
Disatnce travelled: 42.7nm
Running total: 99,891km

Today we battled the elements, sailing in gale force 8!

We left our beautiful anchorage in Lingarabay, and headed North towards the Isle of Lewis. The boat was tossed around in the gales; we all clutched on to our safety ropes as Rena the secret adrenaline junkie enjoyed the ride!

We hugged the coastline and surveyed the sea lochs as we moved north. Firstly we surveyed Loch Tarbet; we could all see the distillery was close and fancied ourselves some of that Harris gin...but unfortunately it was closed and we carried on, past a group of fishing Gooseanders and into open sea.

Loch Seaforth was was dramatic! We battled our way through the howling gales and entered the misty mouth of the loch, framed by steep rocky mountains dressed in hardy vegetation and forgotten lazybeds...It felt like we'd reached Jurassic park (theme tune played by Frazer). An eagle soared over the cliffs, but we couldnt distinguish the species...

As we sailed deeper in to the loch, the hydrophone picked up a fish farm seal grew louder and louder until it came into view. We also heard many snapping shrimp, but no cetaceans could be seen or heard. Our lunch today was a cup of delicious couscous made by Edd...although most of it ended up overboard as the winds blew it off our spoons before we had a chance to shovel it in.

We finished our survey of Loch Seaforth and moved on to Loch Claidh, Isle of Lewis, where we anchored for the night in a small bay, sheltered by a wee island. We shared our anchorage with a group of seals that had the same idea, taking shelter and resting on a bed of seaweed.

Eilidh and Julie fancied another swim so they could pet the seals, but were quickly put off by horror stories of seal bites leading to amputated limbs, told by Ed, Frazer and Simon.

After dinner- a monster amount of vegan curry and dahl made by Eilidh and Felicity- we decided to have a plankton party! Ed went off on the dinghy to grab some plankton-or so we thought until we noticed someone running up the hill on the other side of the bay-we decided he'd made a break for it and continued partying. To the sound of Simons dutch techno music we examined our plankton sample under the microscope; we saw comb jellies, polyceates, copepods, baby barnacles, baby starfish and baby crabs! We were all fascinated, especially Julie, Sylvia and Mike who stayed up partying all night!

We all slept to the noise of howling winds, and seals...

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Antons lifetime list

Published: 15/07/2017

After a night dreaming about our encounter with humpback whales, we awoke to simons dutch techno music...we were all raring to go!! The weather left us all soaked was wet, wet and windy, with a visibilty of 1-2nm most of the day!

After Frazer's special rissoto lunch, the fog finally lifted and revealed the rocky crags around the Sound of Harris...we even got some sunshine which dried up the soaking wet Silurian and volunteers.

Despite a suprisingly calm sea, we only had 1 cetacean sighting, of a harbour porpoise! Although we got several seals, and many beautiful sea birds!

Moving on towards Harris, we saw a spectacular wrestling match between an Arctic Skua and  Common tern....Anton got very excited, the Arctic Skua was next on his 'lifetime list'! Not only that, 2 Great Skuas circled the boat...Anton accidentally dropped a chunk of his raw ginger (which he eats daily to avoid sea sickness) which interested the Skua for a while as it rested by the boat...

At the end of our survey we anchored in Lingerabay for shelter. Although a Baltic wind was still blowing, the bay was so beautiful that it enticed Eilidh and Julie into the sea for yet another swim around Silurian.

Sylvia (dressed as a pirate) and team, brought out dinner, which consisted of veggie and meatie sausages, tatties, and ratatouille..we scoffed the lot!

Before bed we played a game of '10 pieces of paper' which had us all in stitches...the best picture of the night went to Sylvia with her 'aquatic llama' wearing sunglasses and a rubber ring!

After a fun filled day we all headed to bed, hoping for more sightings tomorow!

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Friday 14th July, 2017

Published: 15/07/2017

Anchorage: Loch Eynort
Latitude: 57°13.778N
Longitude: 007°18.112W
Distance Travelled: 45.1 nm
Running Total: 99,726 km

So there we were holding flippers on our first date , we thought it would be a treat to go up the Minch & check out this rare sighting of the humans on their boat. our location was given away by a swooping gannet. Rather than scare them we thought we would get their attention by leaping out of the water & waving to them. It worked, it was magical they came right up to us...i looked one in the eye & it looked right back at me. I think it might be intelligent.
We swam around the boat several times. We kept them on their toes by coming up when they least expected it, blowing and surfacing. We alternated sides, looking for identifying features. We checked out bearing, number of animals spotted & behaviour.
My date dared me to show a bit of fluke, so i gave them a quick flash. I think they took some photos. I hope it doesn't go viral on social media , my mum will kill me.
We caught a whiff of sweet potato & peanut stew, but we'd already been around for half an hour & we didn't want to disturb their feeding behaviour so we let them go on their way & headed North for some humpy times....
Dispatched by whale mail #silurian

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Thursday 13th July, 2017

Published: 14/07/2017

Anchorage: Canna harbour
Latitude: 57°06'.6N
Longitude: 006°30'.2W
Distance travelled: 33.8 nm
Running on effort total: 99,648 km

We arrived in Tobermory in glorious sunshine, with time to visit the HWDT shop & offices & pick up some essentials, like coffee and cake, before boarding Silurian. After meeting the crew- Frazer, Ed, Simon and Eilidh- & the rest of the team- Julia, Mike, Anton, Sylvia, Filicity, Rena- we sat down to our first dinner. Warm, calm evenings in the Hebrides don't come around too often and it seemed like too good an opportunity to three brave souls donned their togs and took a leap into the sea! Getting out proved to be entertaining, and was caught on film!
After our briefing from Frazer on our research tasks for the next day & a run through of survey protocols, working out who was sleeping where and the joys of the on board toilet (& how to use it), we turned in eager to start our 1st day of surveying.

What a first day it was! Before we even left the Sound of Mull we were joined by 8 bottlenose dolphins, associating with the boat for a good half hour. Wow! We moved on getting into the routine of the rota, gaining our sealegs while muti tasking (scanning, staying upright & eating soup all at once). Before too long we were three down to sea sickness - joining the skipper at the wheel heads in buckets....

We made it to Canna all in tact, and our further sightings included 3 porpoises , 2 habour seals...puffins, manx shearwaters, and gannets!
The cooks for the night headed down to the galley to russel up a hearty meal, while a wee group took a trip to dry land to check out the wifi & local cafe!

After dinner (including dessert!), we had another briefing on birds & boats with input from Anton, our bird enthusiast!

What an eventful 1st day! We all retired to bed early anticipating what tommorows hebridean weather has in store for us!

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Friday 7th July 2017

Published: 08/07/2017

Latitude: 56°50'.659N
Longitude: 006°15'.324W
Anchorage: Gallanach Bay, Muck
Nautical miles covered today: 61.5 nm
Total on effort: 99,557 km

Today was our last full day of surveying as part of this expedition.

It was a VERY early start this morning thanks to Bill. Stuart was awoken by the sound of the gas being turned on and the cutlery being taken out of the drawer. Stuart whispered to Bill asking him to wait half an hour or he would wake everyone.... so when Bill misheard he bellowed to the heavens and very successfully woke everyone up. Once everyone was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and over this mornings incident, we set off from Lochmaddy.

Soon after departing we spotted several porpoise and grey seals as we sailed out on the glassy water and across the Little Minch. Since the water was so calm several of the volunteers got the chance to climb up to the crows nest and look across the sea to the nearby islands. When Clay wasn't posing for photos he got a glimpse of a minke whale in the distance. Not long after we were approached by another minke who surfaced near the boat giving Clay a chance to get a selfie. A few porpoise later Fraser yelled  "SIGHTING. DOLPHIN!" and we looked over to see a large pod of common dolphins coming towards us, swimming quickly and leaping clear of the water (which Clay also got a selfie with). The hydrophone picked up some pretty incredible whistles and fast paced clicks, and these could also be heard from the deck.

We continued surveying until we reached our anchorage in Gallanach Bay on Muck at 6pm. A few of the crew have headed ashore to look at the island, whilst the rest have remained on the boat to cook dinner and relax after the long day.

Tomorrow is our last day with HWDT onboard Silurian, so when reaching Tobemory we are going to get "pure sloshed" in the pub to celebrate the end of great expedition.

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Thursday 6th July 2017

Published: 08/07/2017

Latitude: 57°35'.607N
Longitude: 007°09'.132W
Anchorage: Loch Maddy, North Uist
Nautical miles covered today: 28.8 nm
Total on effort: 99,446 km

Let's just reiterate the point we made in yesterday's blog. Risso's are cool.

The Hebridean 'summer' has once again shown her capricious nature and taken a turn for the worse. We awoke to low clouds, dark and choppy seas. We made our way out of our shelter by Lingay, past three sleek harbour porpoise, and round into the sound of Harris. Here we carefully picked our way between the rocks and creel buoys and back into the Little Minch. We struck east fighting the increasing swell, as those at the mast clung on and waves broke over our bow. We then took a dog leg, to cover more area that has been lightly surveyed this year, and headed back towards North Uist.

As we approached the coast Lauren called out "SIGHTING!" and we were lucky enough to encounter a large pod of Risso's! They really are impressive, with large bulbous heads covered in mottled white scarring, and tall dorsal fins. We found there were 12 members in the pod, which swam close enough to us that we could get a good look and identify individuals using photo ID. This was not an easy task, and a stellar effort was made by those who took the photographs while the boat was moving around in the force 5 sea state.

The weather deteriorated making sighting conditions impossible, so we came off effort at around 2pm and moored at Loch Maddy. This gave us a chance to explore ashore before returning to the boat for our evening meal. This was nachos, cooked by tonight's chefs Clay and Siobhan. It's going to be an early night as we need an early start in the morning. On the basis of a favourable weather forecast we are planning on a 12-hour day tomorrow.

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Wednesday 5th July 2017

Published: 05/07/2017

Latitude: 57°40'.731N
Longitude: 007°15'.306W
Anchorage: Lingay, North Uist
Nautical miles covered today: 75.4 nm
Total on effort: 99,397 km

Today was a long one, finishing surveying just after 8pm. However it was certainly worthwhile! Not only did we manage to survey a stretch of ocean west of the Outer Hebrides, which has only been lightly surveyed over the last 15 years of research, we also had another amazing few sightings! From Barra we headed north west offshore catching glimpses of St Kilda as we planned to survey the deeper waters beyond the 100 m contour line. By mid afternoon we finished the trasect and changed course for the sound of Harris. This was especially frustrating for Bill, who has been out on Silurian for the last 7 years and has never yet made it to St Kilda. Maybe next year Bill!

We saw two Risso's dolphins, one big old and white with scars and one younger, smaller and still dark coloured. Risso's are cool! Later we crossed paths with an energetic pod of common dolphins that played along our bow before carrying on their way. It is amazing to see the cream-yellow colouration on their sides in the sunshine. As we approached our anchorage on the north coast of North Uist we spotted it two Harbour Porpoise. What a great day!

Until next time x

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Tuesday 4th July 2017

Published: 05/07/2017

Latitude: 56°34'.666N
Longitude: 006°40'.595W
Anchorage: Vatersay Bay
Nautical miles covered today:  53.1 nm
Total on effort: 99,264 km

'Struth it's been a whale of a day!

We left Coll with high hopes this morning and we weren’t disappointed! We began by travelling through Gunna Sound and heading out across the Sea of the Hebrides towards the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides. The weather was perfect all day with excellent sighting conditions. We're now moored in the beautiful Vatersay Bay and we're "pure buzzin" for haggis, neeps and tatties.

The main entertainment of the day however occured in the middle. We have had what our esteemed Scientific Officer described as "my best ever minke whale encounter!" At one point we had five minkes interacting with the boat, rolling upside down and showing us their white stomachs. It seemed as though they were just as interested in us as we were in them. This allowed for some great photo opportunities - check us out on instagram!

This amazing encounter was soon followed by a large pod of common dolphin which cavorted as they intersected with our path, swimming directly under the bow of the boat.

Just as we thought the day couldn't get any more thrilling, two basking sharks appeared in the distance. A bellow from skipper Stuart allerted the crew who were able to get great views of the gentle giants as they swam blissfully beside us.

Throughout the day we also came across many common and grey seals as well as a few porpoise and an impressive jellyfish that was 40cm across!

We had further visits from minke whales and dolphins as we continued on our way towards our mooring and a scattering of seals to end the days work.

To top off a brilliant day, Adam and Clay chucked on the budgie smugglers and charged into the cold waters and crashing waves of the north Atlantic. Meanwhile Jess and Siobhan made aquaintance with a local dog that followed us back to the boat, presumably wanting in on the haggis supper.

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signing out, Jess and Clay

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Monday 3rd July 2017

Published: 05/07/2017

Latitude: 56°34'.666N
Longitude: 006°40'.595W
Anchorage: Crossapol Bay, Coll
Nautical miles covered today: 51.2 nm
Total on effort: 99,183 km

Today we had some pretty epic sailing, charging through the dramatic Corryvreckan this morning. The Corryvreckan is at times a massive whirlpool but today was just an exhilarating rollercoaster ride. The sun was out for much of the day, and we sailed up past Mull and Iona to our anchorage in Crossapol Bay, Coll. The beach here seems endless and we were lucky enough to catch a brief glimpse of an otter as well as our usual friendly neighbourhood seals!

With the sun out the menfolk chose to display their manliness through acrobatic dive competitions off the side of Silurian. Stuart was first in and handled the cold with the most casual indifference, however a special mention must be made of Clay and his 'budgie-smugglers'. Enough said.

Our trip ashore was enjoyed by all, with some paddling, rock-pooling and exploring in the sun. It was another curry night on board, and we had a relaxed evening fishing (unsuccessfully) off the side, examining the fish lice we found on the hydrophone under the microscope and even playing a few rounds of Bannanagrams.

We are heading west tomorrow and aiming for the Outer Hebrides. Keep tuned for the next update! :)

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Sunday 2nd July 2017

Published: 02/07/2017

Latitude: 56°07'.340N
Longitude: 005°41'.492W
Anchorage: Kinuachdrachd Harbour
Nautical miles covered today: 45.7 nm
Total on effort: 99,090

G'day! Today has been a good day!

We waved goodbye to our view of the distillery and our neighbouring boats this morning and headed across to the mainland. We had an initial explore up into the scenic Loch Caolisport before we sailed up and into Loch Sween and spotted the picturesque castle Sween. We were kept busy counting all the creel buoys and saw a good number of seals sunning themselves on the rocks by the edge of the loch.  With regards to weather we had a mostly dry day with a few showers and even some spells of sunshine! Crack out the suncream!

This evening we are anchored in Kinuachdrachd Harbour on the north tip of Jura ready for an early start tomorrow to shoot through Corryvreckan with the general aim to survey in a northwestern direction.  We have a friendly seal watching over us, and Chefs Bill and Clay are cooking up a storm in the galley. Tonight we will feast on the traditional fare of bangers and mash. Also on the evening's schedule is a "plankton party". For those not in the know, this involves taking a random sample with a fine mashed net off the side of Silurian and discovering the mysteries of the deep with the aid of a microscope! Hurrah!

Best wishes,
Jess, Adam and Siobhan x

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Saturday 1st July 2017

Published: 02/07/2017

Latitude: 55°50'.213N
Longitude: 005°56'.673W
Anchorage: Craighouse
Nautical miles covered today: 41.4 nm
Total on effort: 99,007 km

We woke this morning to a warm, sunny scene in beautiful Kildalton Bay. The calm of the water was only broken by the local seals, sneezing as they came up for a breather. After our promising 8:30 am start in a southerly direction, the weather took a turn for the worse and by lunchtime the rain was constant and the wind had picked up. Only the brown guillemots and the odd gannet seemed to be enjoying the great outdoors - oh yes, welcome to summer in the Hebrides! Just before reaching the shipping lanes north of Ireland, we veered left toward Kintyre. The competition over sightings was fierce throughout the day. It was a close call between the double creel buoy and the grotty looking brown bottle, with the bottle taking pride of place. We were all cheered up by a timely reminder from our trusty Science Officer Frazer that no sighting is in fact a scientific finding. Given the prevailing weather conditions, we decided on an early finish to the day and weighed anchor at Craighouse, a stunning location with a beautiful view of the whisky distillery - thanks Skipper Stuart!

Good night from Gill and Adam, 2/3rd of the Aussie contingent on Silurian!

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Friday 30th June 2017

Published: 01/07/2017

Latitude: 55°39.419N
Longitude: 006°04.181W
Anchorage: Kildalton Bay
Nautical miles covered today: 56 nm
Total on effort: 98,932 km

Holy struth we've been crying ruth all day!! Today we sailed from Loch Buie on the south coast of Mull and proceeded south with a tail wind to Islay sailing past Colonsay and through the Sound of Islay. We then rounded the South Eastern corner of Islay having passed a couple of distilleries including Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila.

With regards to sighting we had 14 harbour porpoise detections on the hyrdophone but unfortunately didn't see any. However we did see a good number of seals basking in the sun as we sailed towards our anchorage. Conditions were not always ideal due to strong northerly winds which made for an uncomfortable journey, especially for 2 of our volunteers! The wind enabled us to have full sail for two or three hours of the day.

Kildalton Bay is a lovely anchorage, currently bathed in sunshine with a small sandy beach on the shore that a few of us visited. We even encountered a couple of local dogs.

We are looking forward to a good day tomorrow, with hopefully a few sightings. If the water is warm enough Clay has promised to go for a swim.

G'night from the Silurian team!

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Thursday 29th June 2017

Published: 30/06/2017

Latitude: 56°21.027N
Longitude: 005°51.345W
Anchorage: Loch Buie
Nautical miles covered today: 37.4 nm
Total on effort: 98,833 km

Today the weather was pretty miserable… but we weren’t! We started the morning learning how and why we carry out surveys, before making our way down the Sound of Mull. This route protected us from the swell that came with the wind from the North. We were braced for a very windy day, but we were blessed with only ‘moderate’ driech. As we survey we take a record of the weather and sea conditions four times an hour… and lets just say that the word ‘drizzle’ popped up a lot.

Our first marine mammals of the survey were a couple of very cute seals which popped up as we travelled down the Sound. Just as we apporached our anchorage at Loch Buie we were lucky enough to spot three Harbour Porpoises, which we can now confidently identify. Loch Buie is a very picturesque place to spend the night, with stunning beaches, dramatic waterfalls plunging down verdant hills, and even a castle!

Although we discussed a swim it was the general consensus that perhaps it was a wee bit chilly and we would give it a miss this evening. Clay and Bill are currently in the kitchen concocting a ‘world famous’ curry for dinner and our hungry anticipation has also put fishing plans on hold!

Siobhan, Jess and Lauren (who is currently half asleep!)

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Wednesday 28th June 2017

Published: 29/06/2017

Latitude: 57°37.182N
Longitude: 006°03.671W
Anchorage: Tobermory Harbour
Nautical miles covered today: 0 nm
Total on effort: 98,766 km

Today is day one of the first 12 day survey of the season, and it's off to a great start! The weather here in Tobermory has been warm, dry and is possibly lulling us into a false sense of security about the week ahead…

This survey is once again skippered by the wonderful Stuart, and we are delighted to have Simon back as first mate after nearly a whole month away! Frazer is, as usual, our scientific ringmaster and I am here to lend a willing hand to whatever needs doing (like writing this blog post!).

We have just welcomed on board six outstanding citizen scientists who will make the next twelve days not only possible but also memorable and fun! Three of our six hale from ‘down under’ so I hope they are well prepared for the hebridean ‘summer'!

Adam is from Melbourne and has recently escaped from an IT cave to study education. Gill lives in Sydney and has just completed a rather impressive sounding PhD which looked at teaching education for democratic citizenship in Palestine. Clay left Australia to study ecology and environmental science at Edinburgh University and is a keen water polo player.

From the UK contingent we are thrilled to welcome back Bill for his 7th Silurian survey! Its great to have him back and fingers crossed he will get a few more fantastic sightings this time. We are also welcoming back Lauren for her second survey, before she heads off to Cork for her marine biology masters degree! It’s Jess’ first trip out with us and she has just finished her first year at Glasgow University studying zoology.

The forecast is a little ominous but with such a fantastic team on board we are all looking forward to setting off tomorrow morning on our adventures.

Siobhan (HWDT residential engagement volunteer)

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Friday 23rd June 2017

Published: 28/06/2017

Today we left Kyle of Loch Alsh with two of our trusties on a delivery back to Tobermory, it was a rough stretch but we got back in one peice. We even had a great sighting of three bottlenose dolphins which stayed with us for a good while allowing us the opportunity to get good ID photos of each one.

Now we are all back home its time to rest after a long and exhausting survey.

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Thursday 22nd June 2017

Published: 26/06/2017

Latitude: 57°16.787N
Longitude: 005°43.468W
Anchorage: Kyle of Lochalsh
Nautical miles covered today: 22.1
Total on effort: 98,685
Today we left our anchorage at Portree on the Isle of Skye and continued our return to Kyle of Lochalsh, a short three hour journey and we were back at Kyle and moored up before lunchtime. We then organised all the cleanning tasks between the crew and set to work making sure Silurian was spick and span and all ready for her journey back to Tobermory tomorrow morning.

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Wednesday 21st June 2017

Published: 22/06/2017

Latitude: 57°24.6N
Longitude: 006°11.7W

Anchorage: Portree, Skye

Nautical miles travelled today: 55.1
Total on effort: 98,647

Today we left our anchorage at Poolewe and continued down the west coast of Scotland on our return to Kyle of Lochalsh. However shortly after setting off we received a distress call over the radio from a local fisherman who had lost power from his engine and his vessel was sitting dead on the water. We temporally haulted our survey and headed to his location, we decided to tow him for a short while to keep his vessel clear of the rocks as we waited the arrival of the RNLI lifeboat, which would take over and tow him back to shore.

Shortly after we left the fisherman with the lifeboat the wind picked up and so did the sea state, the rest of the was spent on rough sea. So much so that the front observers had to move to the back of thge vessel, the rough sea continued until we reached our anchorage for the night at Portree on the Isle of Skye.

That night we had a lovely dinner of leftover wraps with all the veg and meat plus a few other bits and bobs we had left in the cupboards, tomorrow we will begin our final stint towards Kyle of Lochalsh and our survey will be complete.

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Saturday 17th June 2017

Published: 22/06/2017

Latitude: 57°27.414N
Longitude: 005°53.358W

Anchorage: Arinacrinachd Bay

Nautical miles travelled today: 34
Total on effort: 98,300km

Today was another rollercoaster ride on board Silurian, with the sea state from three to four and a one metre high swell in places rocking the vessel from side to side, fairly roughly at times. However no harm done except for a bit of spilled soup! Despite the rough conditions through the Inner Sound we had two exciting encouters with common dolphins, two harbour porpoises again in sea state four! We also had some great marine bird sightings, including ganets, guillemots, manx shearwaters, puffins and great skuas.

We've headed intro our anchorage for thge night in a small bay called Arinacrinachd, after a lovely meal prepared and cooked by Alicia and Louisa, we had a few good rounds of card games with Silurian snap being the most entertaining and painful! of them all.

It looks like the weather will be calming down a bit tomorrow after hearing the latest weather preditions from the Coast Guard. Hopefully if the preditions are right we will be heading to Harris in the morning, but for now time for a well deserved sleep for the whole crew.

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Tuesday 20th June 2017

Published: 22/06/2017

Latiutude: 57°46.365N
Longitude: 005°344W

Anchorage: Poolewe

Natutical miles travelled today: 62.6
Total on effort: 98,553

Today has been another long and exciting day for the crew of Silurian, today we left our anchorage at Collsands in Broad bay off Lewis heading out of the bay. We changed course and travelled across the North Minch and towards our anchorage for the night in Poolewe near Ullapool on the Scottih mainland.

The encounters continued today twenty eight sightings occuring which included harbour porpoises minke whales, white-beaked dolphins and a large pod of common dolphins that were bowriding alongsiude Silurian. the sea state was so calm we could see the commons as clear as day under the water, they gave the crew a real treat with their antics and stayed with us for good amount of time. However they soon departed and we continued on our transect line headed towards our anchorage for the night at Poolewe, a small village on the Scottish mainland.

Some of the crew went ashore on the tender to explore, while the rest stayed onboard and took the opportunity to have much needed showers and relax. Tomorrow we begin our journey back to Kyle of Lochalsh where our survey started and where it will soon be at an end.

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Monday 19th June 2017

Published: 22/06/2017

Latitude: 58°16.515N
Longitude: 006°19.088W

Anchorage: Collsands, Lewis

Nautical miles travelled today: 36.6
Total on effort: 98,443km

Today has been the most incredable day of th survey! We left our anchorage at Loch Grimshader and headed up the East coast of Lewis, the plan was was to had past the Eye Peninsula and thn dwon into Broad bay from Tolsta Head. During the survey we encountered seven minke whales, three pods of white-beaked dolphins, dozens of diving ganets and other marine birds, plus the big suprise of the day a sunfish!

We had a suspected lunge-feeding minke whale as it surfaced rigt infront of Silurian with large amount of force, revealing a lot more of its body than usual giving the crew a big shock to say the least. Other minkes surfaced long side Slurian, so close ou could smell the distintive odour of the minke's breath.

The last pods of white-beaked dolphins we encounted today swam alongside Silurian bowriding and swimming constantly underneath the surfaceof the water, we could easily see the distinctive white pattern on their flanks through the water. After all the excitement of seeing multiple minkes and white-beaks and as we were returning to our transect line our skipper Stuart spotted a sunfish, which was calmly swimming alongside the port side of the vessel.

Its been quite an exciting day but also an exhausting day for the whole crew and now we are at our anchorage for the night at Collsands within Broad bay or Loch a Tuath, the sun is shinning overhead and we are all looking forward to a nice dinner and a well deserved rest.

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Sunday 18th June 2017

Published: 22/06/2017

Latitude: 58°08.291N
Longitude: 006°24.925W

Anchorage: Loch Grimshader

Nautical miles traveled today: 51.2
Total on effort: 98,390km

Today started off with an early bang on board Silurian at breakfast, as Frazer spotted what was at first thought to be a small seal. However as it got closer to us he soon realised that it was an otter, which is the first one spotted from Silurian this year and wa a real treat for us all the crew to see. The otter swam right past the vessel only a few metrs away, diving occassionally then reapering close by, and we even managed to snap a few photos.

After breakfast we left our anchorage at Arinacrinachd Bay in Loch Torridon and headed across the North Minch towards the Isle of Lewis. As w past by the Shaint islands we had an large increase in the amoount of puffins sighted as they nest on the islands, we must have observed well over one hundred puffins during the survey.

During the servey we had thirty one harbour porpoise clicks and even poptential dolphin whistles detections by the hydrophone. However we unfortuately did not have any visual sightings of cetaceans today, but we did have a lovely Scottish-Mexican dish for dinner of haggis nachos tonight.

Tomorrow we'll be leaving our anchorage in Loch Grimshader, and will be heading furthe north along the Lewis coaster and around Tiumpan Head and into Loch a Tuath where we will be dropping anchor in a shelted bay within the loch.

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Friday 16th June 2017

Published: 22/06/2017

Latitude: 57°20.387N
Longitude: 005°38.585W

Anchorage: Plockton Harbour

Naitical miles travelled today 28.7
Total on effort 98,239Km

Today marked the beginning of our survey, our new group of citizenscientists all the way from Sweeden joined us yesterday evening at Kyle of Lochalsh. We started the survey heading into Loch Alsh, which was a good taster course for the group to get used to the surevy protocal on board and we even had some encouter with harbour porpoises, common seals and plenty of sightings of creel buoys.

After turning around we bgan to head out of the relitively calm Loch Alsh and into the Linne Crowlin, where the sea state really picked up. However despite the rough sea we were still managed to spot several grey and common seals and even two! Harbour porpoises which in a sea state four is a great achivement.

At aroung 5pm we arrived at our mooring sight for the night in Plockton harbour, and after a lovely dinner cooked by our new team, a introduction into British sea birds we'll be turning in for the night. I'm very much looking forward our second day at sea in the Scotish Hebrides with fingers crossed a bit calmer weather!

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Monday 12th June 2017

Published: 12/06/2017


Anchorage: Kyle of Lochalsh.

Nautical miles travelled today 24.9.

Total on effort 98189Km.

In my experience the last day of a Silurian trip is a bittersweet mixture of wanting to stay surveying for many more days and longing for dry land and a luxurious bath. Our rather quiet survey sightings-wise was duly rewarded today as less than half an hour out into the Sound of Raasay from Portree Tibor spotted distant splashes about 1km away, which turned out to be a pod of we estimate upwards of 60 Common Dolphins!

We spent around 20 minutes watching them from a respectful distance as they were busy displaying feeding behaviour - a fast chasing burst in one direction in a large group with a few doing violent sideslaps of the water, and a few slower swimming individuals on the edges, then some slower milling around possibly feeding. We were pleased to see a number of small juvenile dolphins closely mirroring their mums. This sighting was very impressive and created a great buzz after some quiet days of unfavourable conditions.

We carried on down the Sound with several Common Seal sightings before picking up a favourable wind and sailing for real right to the Skye bridge.
It was Izzie's Birthday so an almond sponge was baked and decorated with a dolphin shaped dessicated coconut topping to celebrate in style!

Murders today included Tibor at the mast with a fruit bowl, with some plans afoot to dispatch Rod in the RIB with a teaspoon - tricky when you're on the fine Kyle of Lochalsh pontoons.
A team effort got the boat spick and span before photos were collated and shared on our snazzy HWDT USB sticks. The evening meal out is planned and currently folks are enjoying the new community showers. Everyone is in full agreement that this was a great experience, with fun people and some stunning scenery - sighting wise we're very glad to have contributed some data too.

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