First Survey of 2018 Kicks Off to a Successful Start

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Our first Silurian survey of the season kicked off last weekend with the arrival of our team of enthusiastic volunteer citizen scientists arriving in Tobermory from all over the UK (and one from Switzerland!).

As the first survey of 2018, volunteers ventured out to monitor our resident populations of harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin, and a keen eye from all was on the lookout for the infamous John Coe – a firm favourite with both crew and volunteers alike.

 Map detailing the survey track lines covered during the monitoring expedition

Map detailing the survey track lines covered during the monitoring expedition

We encountered a blustery start on the first full day of surveying heading out to the Isle of Coll, with the first puffins of the season spotted bobbing about on the swell. Despite the lively conditions, the volunteers were trained in acoustic monitoring, distance estimates, and recording environmental conditions, alongside the all-important training of how to spot marine wildlife. Our very first cetacean of the season was spotted alongside Silurian on Monday, a wee harbour porpoise, our most commonly spotted cetacean in our survey area.

 The first puffins of the season bobbing alongside Silurian

The first puffins of the season bobbing alongside Silurian

The weather continued to provide an exciting experience, interspersed with some glorious days of sunshine, which was followed by the most exciting phrase of Scottish summertime: ‘Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!’ Not only did we manage to enjoy the sapphire summer hues of the deep blue whilst on effort, but the weather also ensured everyone got to experience some scenic anchorages each evening and a chance to explore some of Scotland’s most remote and scenic shorelines. After some ‘occasional rain’ on the second day of surveying, a rainbow led us to the hidden gem of Loch Na Droma Buidhe, where one curious porpoise and an even more curious seal paid us a visit. Perhaps the sun got us a little too excited, as the next night at the Caribbean-like Singing Sands, near Kintra, one brave volunteer decided to ditch the oilies for the swimming trunks. The last night at anchorage topped them all, as the volunteers explored the spectacular Isle of Canna and all of its archaeological quirk’s.

 Silurian in all her glory

Silurian in all her glory

This April survey also marked the first Silurian voyage of our new Marine Biodiversity Officer, Becky Dudley, who was keen to be back out on Scottish waters, and delivered fantastic interactive and informative science training, which even included a plankton party (apologies for my DJ skills!).

 Volunteers and crew enjoying the plankton party

Volunteers and crew enjoying the plankton party

During the expedition, which covered almost 200 miles, volunteers encountered several species, including 6 harbour porpoise, 5 seals (both common and grey), and unidentified fin (!) and several close encounters with seabirds, including the first puffins and fulmars of the season. We also spotted two military vessels through the Sound of Mull, in Scottish waters to partake in the NATO Joint Warrior military exercise – the largest in Europe – which is held most years on a bi annual basis as a wide scale training exercise. As part of the survey season, we run a specialist survey which coincides with the Joint Warrior exercise to monitor the behaviour of marine wildlife during this time. Again, this provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to experience being a citizen scientist and continue to help support marine conservation efforts. The Joint Warrior Expedition Survey is now on her first full day of training, as another group of enthusiastic volunteers joined us in Tobermory last night.

 What a view! Ben, one of our volunteers, looking out from Canna towards Rum

What a view! Ben, one of our volunteers, looking out from Canna towards Rum

A massive thank you to all our volunteers who joined us on this first trip – Steve, Sandie, Anna, Peter, Ben and Josie – who all battled through the weather and made it a thoroughly enjoyable week. We hope to see you again soon!

You can still book your space on Silurian for this season. Not only do we have berths availble from Tobermory, but also from Kyle of Lochalsh and Ullapool. For more information please click the link below.