Winter Survey Summary: January


A snowy scene greeted us at Tobermory harbour on the morning of our first EVER survey in January, and the launch of our new multiyear programme of dedicated monitoring surveys during the winter months. Five new volunteers made their way eagerly but cautiously on board, as the pontoons had turned icy from the sub-zero temperatures the night before. All of the volunteers had joined us at the end of last year for a training day to learn all about the marine life in our waters, our survey protocol including underwater acoustics, and life on board Silurian. Snow began to fall as we gathered in the saloon to refresh our knowledge and discuss the days ahead.


During the survey we covered 133.4 nautical miles, recording over 19 hours of acoustic data. We surveyed waters around the Small Isles, before heading south to Bunessan on the Isle of Mull, with the final day concentrating on surveying the waters east of Coll.

Track lines for Winter Survey 1

Track lines for Winter Survey 1

We were surrounded by the most incredible scenery throughout the survey. Many of the mountains were covered in snow, highlighting the beauty of the Hebrides! Except from a few snowy showers on the first day, the weather remained fine, with clear blue skies. Consistent winds meant for some slightly choppy seas on the first day, however, they too settled down and we had a fantastic sail home on the last day!

We even had some sightings! We encountered several seals and recorded eight harbour porpoise, including a small group who surfaced around the vessel several times, seemingly enjoying the waves (see photo below). We also had a sighting of a large pod of dolphins in the distance who were unfortunately too far away to identify, with the sun was quickly disappearing behind the the Isle of Rum.

Some of the harbour porpoise seen on this survey

Some of the harbour porpoise seen on this survey

All of the volunteers on board did a phenomenal job, we couldn’t collect this new and vital data without you! Thank you to Anne, Chris, Jenny, Michael and Nicola!

Thanks also to Scottish Natural Heritage who help fund the data collection programme aboard Silurian.

Feeling inspired to get involved with our marine conservation efforts? We still have spaces on our surveys this summer season 2019, come and join us on board for your chance to contribute to our research and encounter some of the cetaceans we have in our waters!