'Into the Blue' with Rod White


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 conservation programmes 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, Rod White, one of our dedicated research volunteers, shares one of his top experiences...

It all started in the spring of 2015 when I was listening to Radio Scotland. I heard an article about HWDT and it stimulated my interest. I applied for a place and in June, I was aboard.

One particular evening in lovely settled weather, we anchored in the Shiants, a remote island group in the middle of the Minch. The anchorage was covered in rafts of guillemot, razorbills and puffins. The contrast of the rich chocolate brown of the guillemots compared to the jet black of the razorbills as they floated next to the boat was startling. They look so similar when seen at sea and the difference close up was unmistakable. It was a beautiful evening and we went ashore to explore and to see the birds. Many were busy flying to and fro over our heads and the land was peppered with nesting pairs.
Having climbed up one of the hillsides we were blessed with a beautiful view of the Minch, with the Outer Hebrides of Harris and Lewis beyond. All around were nesting puffins. It was a delight to sit still so close to these lovely inquisitive birds who would poke their heads out of their burrows, look you up and down, flick their heads and utter a quizzical musing noise as if to say “Mmmmm, what have we here?”. Waddling around in dinner jackets, sporting multicoloured beaks, they would sometimes pick a territorial fight with a neighbour. On one occasion a fighting pair tumbled head over heels, or beak over wings, down the slope continuing the tussle as they went.

The following day we spotted several minke whale south of the Shiants and then, when I was on computer recording duty, I heard dolphin whistles on the hydrophone and saw the characteristic sinusoidal recordings on the scrolling computer screen. The whistles grew louder and louder and as their echo location clicks appeared in addition to the whistles, I heard the shout “sighting” from the observers on deck. A large pod of common dolphin was soon riding at our bow. The whistles and clicks were so loud I was in a torment of indecision wanting to go on deck to enjoy the visual spectacle but also wanting to stay where I was and continue listening to these wonderful animals.

The whole week was a great adventure. I am now a veteran of six expeditions. I have lots of happy memories and met so many lovely friends.

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 magnificent wildlife, explore spectacular Hebridean landscapes and make a valuable contribution to our marine conservation.

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