'Into the Blue' with Dr Frazer Coomber

 The humpback whale lunge feeding, an effective technique for consuming large amounts of prey!

The humpback whale lunge feeding, an effective technique for consuming large amounts of prey!

The 'Blue Planet II: Into the Blue' extra gives us a fascinating insight into the efforts it takes to realise the wonderful footage we see on our screens each episode.

Like the Blue Planet series, it takes a huge amount of preparation, effort and dedication from our team to deliver our Cetacean Research Programme aboard our research vessel, Silurian.  Over the coming weeks, members of the team will share their own ‘Into the Blue’ moments, highlighting some of their most memorable times aboard Silurian

This week, Dr Frazer Coomber, who leads the data collection programme aboard, shares one of his top experiences...

Other the past two years, I have spent most of my summer out in the Hebrides searching for whales and dolphins. There have been many days and encounters that will stay with me for the rest of my life. However, one specific day in 2016 was spectacular and I am happy to share this experience with everyone.

It started in Durness - the furthest north I have ever been on a boat to date - we headed west, around Cape Wrath, towards the Isle of Lewis. It was a warm sunny day with glassy calm seas, perfect conditions for surveying for whales and dolphins. As we made our way west we came across several pods of white-beaked dolphins and Risso’s dolphins (my favourites) leaping and splashing in front of the beautiful backdrop of the west coast of Scotland. The day continued with countless other encounters including harbour porpoise, grey and harbour seals and many common dolphins.

However, it started to become late and we were faced with a dilemma: continue on for a late finish or turn around for a more relaxed day. After a diplomatic chat with everyone on board it was a unanimous vote to go for a longer day and what a glorious surprise we had in store.

At around six thirty a blow was spotted off in the distance and everyone was soon bouncing at the prospect of a large whale. As we got closer, we soon realised that it was humpback whale surrounded by 300 hundred plus common dolphins and literally thousands of gannets! As this wildlife spectacle unfolded around us, we slowed and turned off the engine.

As we drifted no other boats or people could be seen and then all of a sudden an area of the sea would appear to boil as all the small fish were being pushed up to the surface. Then, WHAM, the huge whale lunged out of the water with its mouth agape encompassing all the fish. Common dolphins then proceeded to surface all around it picking up the fish it missed, then the gannets started to pummel in! This went on for quite some time until we decided to head off to a beautiful anchorage tired but very happy.

Feel inspired by Blue Planet II and want to get involved with marine conservation efforts?  Why not join us on board Silurian in 2018?  Experience the magnificent wildlife sightings, explore spectacular Hebridean landscapes and make a valuable contribution to our scientific research.

We believe scientific evidence is the foundation of effective conservation. Our Cetacean Research Programme delivers that evidence, but we need you to help us!

 A picture says a thousand words...delighted doesn't come close! Dr Coomber is pictured in the centre.

A picture says a thousand words...delighted doesn't come close! Dr Coomber is pictured in the centre.