First all-female crew run February winter survey
An all-female crew have delivered a dedicated monitoring survey on Silurian for the first time! With the help of five volunteers, Emma (our skipper and boat manager), Becky (our marine biodiversity officer who runs the science on board) and Lynsey (our first mate and acoustic research assistant) ran our second winter survey, which is part of our new multi-year programme of winter monitoring that launched in January. Here’s Becky’s round up of the trip;
On the 22nd February, we welcomed five new volunteers turned citizen scientists on board for our second winter survey of 2019. After having a tour of the vessel, the volunteers chose their cabins and began to make themselves at home. We sat around the table to get to know each other better over a few games, including the Silurian classic bananagrams! After a rather windy night, we got up early the next morning to refresh the skills the volunteers learnt during their pre-trip training day.
As we left Tobermory it was still ‘blowing a hoolie’, so we crossed the Sound of Mull and attempted to shelter from the wind in Loch Sunart. It was a blustery start, but the wind died off in the afternoon and we got a beautiful sail down the Sound of Mull, accompanied by some wonderful homemade cheese scones (thanks Jane!).
We anchored in Loch Aline that evening and enjoyed a much quieter night on board, as the weather remained settled. We were also treated to a spectacular view of the night sky, and an array of shooting stars. The next day, we continued down the Sound of Mull, surveying the waters to the south of Mull, before sailing down the Sound of Iona and anchoring at Bunessan for the evening. On the final day of the survey we made our way back to Tobermory with the wind behind us, to complete our circumnavigation of the Isle of Mull.
During the survey we covered 128.3 nautical miles, collecting over 17 hours of acoustic data, with our citizen scientists spending over 20 hours on effort, looking for whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Despite some tricky conditions, we managed to spot some marine life on each day of the survey. Throughout the trip, we spotted harbour porpoise, common (harbour) seals, grey seals, and plenty of birds too. Even when the sea conditions made spotting animals difficult, the hydrophone was still monitoring for any cetaceans in the area, picking up harbour porpoise clicks even when we couldn’t see them!
All of the volunteers on board were incredible! We couldn’t collect this new and vital data without you. You all made the survey so much fun. Thanks to all of you!
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 2019 summer surveys. Come and join us on board for your chance to contribute to our research and encounter some of the amazing wildlife we have in our waters!