HWDT Welcomes Familiar Face as Winter Acoustic Research Assistant


We are absolutely delighted to welcome Lynsey Bland to HWDT this winter as our Acoustic Research Assistant. After first joining one of our Silurian surveys back in 2013, Lynsey has become a familiar face at the Trust clocking up an impressive nine Silurian surveys and completing two six-month volunteer placements at the Trust in 2016/17. Since then, Lynsey has gone on to be the primary wildlife guide with HWDT data partners, Hebrides Cruises, and has been HWDT’s relief Marine Biodiversity Officer on Silurian this year too.

After a few of summers at sea, it’s great to be once again working with HWDT this winter. Over the past few years I have been involved in collecting acoustic data on board Silurian so it’s fantastic to see where that data goes and to gain knowledge and experience in analysing this data once its back in the office. I’m delighted to be contributing to the understanding of the harbour porpoise in this incredibly important environment, whilst learning a new skills at the same time.
— Lynsey Bland

This winter, Lynsey will be working with our Science and Conservation team to process our valuable acoustic data. Passive acoustic monitoring plays a key role in our research here at HWDT, providing an accurate and consistent way of monitoring cetacean species, even in inclement weather. Silurian started using a towed hydrophone array in 2002, and since then has compiled a comprehensive acoustic data set, spanning 15 years and comprising over 6,000 hours, the equivalent of 250 continuous days, of underwater recordings.

These recordings are particularly important for monitoring the smallest cetacean we see here in the Hebrides, the harbour porpoise. Lynsey will be re-analysing three years of recordings identifying harbour porpoise acoustic encounters using the latest scientific methodology to allow us to determine distribution and population trends over the past 15 years. As well as species monitoring, these recordings are increasingly being used to assess the changing soundscape of the west coast marine environment and the potential impacts of acoustic pollution on the cetaceans in the region.

To learn more about our 15 years of marine mammal monitoring on Silurian, check out the first part of our Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas here;

HWDT are grateful to the True and Fair Foundation for funding our acoustic analysis this winter.

Lauren Hartny-Mills