Survey the Hebrides

Each year our specially equipped research yacht Silurian sails the Hebrides monitoring whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans). We look for animals (visual survey); listen for animals (acoustic survey) and take photographs of their distinct markings (photo identification).

We conduct long-term monitoring of the distribution, abundance and habitat use of cetaceans in Hebridean waters as well as emerging threats such as noise and entanglement risks. To enable this research, we rely on enthusiastic paying volunteers joining us aboard; people who wish to contribute directly to a well-established monitoring programme which advances the understanding of Hebridean cetaceans and other marine wildlife.

Volunteers effectively become marine mammal scientists for the duration of the expedition; living and working aboard Silurian, assisting with the day-to-day running and domestic duties, alongside working together as a team to carry out the survey work.
Please be aware, this is not a whale watching experience, it’s a scientific survey – however, no experience is required as full training will be provided.


As a volunteer aboard Silurian, you will have the opportunity to observe the amazing variety of marine wildlife the UK hosts. You will explore some of the remotest, wildest parts of the British Isles; anchoring each night in a different bay off one of the many Hebridean islands, venturing ashore to explore.

To explore our Marine Observatory - created using data collected from aboard Silurian - please click here.

"My trips on Silurian have been inspirational. It's a privilege to encounter wildlife in such a beautiful marine environment but to contribute to the understanding of the cetaceans in these waters is very special indeed. It's something that will stay with you for ever. Every day different and every encounter significant." Jan Storie, Silurian Volunteer (on multiple occassions!)

The Hebrides is one of the most important areas in Europe for cetaceans, however until recently, remarkably little was known about the mega-fauna found in Hebridean waters. By collecting data over a long period of time we can detect changes, such as a boom in the population or a shift in distribution.
Our aim is to provide those who manage Scotland’s marine species and habitats with the information they need to ensure effective conservation of the area’s diverse cetacean population.

Before committing to participating in a Cetacean Research Survey, please read this information about the expedition and what to expect aboard Silurian.

The Trust runs Standard Surveys (for those aged 18 or older), Teen Team Surveys (for those aged 16 or 17) and Joint Warrior Surveys (to monitor any potential effects of the massive NATO military exercise which occurs twice a year in the Hebrides).