Survey Summary: Teen Team Research Expedition 3
Our third and final Teen Team Research Expedition this year departed from Ullapool on the 13th October, providing six budding scientists with a unique opportunity to live on board Silurian, train to be marine mammal scientists and get hands on work experience out at sea.
Over the week we travelled 93.6 nautical miles, collecting visual and acoustic data in the waters around Wester Ross and up to Lochinver. It was a rather windy week, with strong gusts and a big swell, but the team took it in their stride and by the end of the week, everyone grew into their sea legs.
In total we had five sightings, encountering three different species – common seal, harbour porpoise and common dolphins, as well as a speedy unidentified dolphin and a sharky fin. Between the team, we also recorded 358 birds, with kittiwakes being the most frequently seen species. A large number of geese were also recorded out at sea on their annual migration.
The sighting of the trip was definitely the four common dolphins which joined us to bow ride on our second day of surveying as we sailed into the Minch, giving everyone a good view.
Another highlight of the expedition was the opportunity to explore different places. Stormbound alongside the pier in Lochinver, the team made the most of their time, exploring the nearby woodland and beaches, as well as going on a stunning autumnal walk in the shadow of Suilven around the River Inver. Lochinver is renowned for its pie shop, so after our walk in true Lochinver style we all got pies to take back for our final night in Ullapool.
Our Skipper Emma chose our anchorages well throughout the trip and one morning we woke to stags roaring and rutting nearby with a golden eagle flying overhead. Brave members of the team also made the most of our remoteness, jumping into the clear water one evening for a quick swim – the water is apparently warmer at this time of year – although it didn’t look it from their faces!
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the teen researchers on this survey, we have added to the scientific evidence highlighting important changes occurring in Scottish waters.
We would like to say a big thanks to the six young people that joined us on board, despite changeable weather conditions and sporadic sightings we all had a great time and were really impressed with your team work, determination and positive attitudes. All the best of luck with your applications to University! Hopefully we will see you again, back on Silurian in the not too distant future!
This trip was also possible thanks to funding from Scottish Natural Heritage, players of People’s Postcode Lottery through Postcode Local Trust, and the Robertson Trust.
If you are 16 or 17 years old and are feeling inspired to spend seven days at sea, working alongside scientists as marine mammal field biologists, why not join our Teen Research Expedition next year?