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For over a decade our research vessel, Silurian, has collected information of international importance on the marine life in the Hebrides.

Each year Silurian travels thousands of nautical miles to monitor whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks off the Scottish west coast. This pioneering Cetacean Research Programme, now in its 17th year, holds the largest database of its kind for UK waters and provides the evidence to support marine conservation efforts in Scottish waters.

A citizen science programme at its core, every sighting in the database has been collected by a member of the public. Our live-aboard surveys are a unique experience, like no other in the UK; explore the wilds of the Hebrides, have amazing wildlife encounters whilst getting involved directly with marine conservation.

Silurian Facts:

  • Berths 10 people: 6 volunteers and 4 crew

  • Built in Seattle in 1981

  • 16m ketch, large and sturdy, perfect for sailing the Hebrides

  • Surveyed 100,000km (and counting!) for HWDT

  • Used in the filming of BBC Blue Planet

Our Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas celebrates the contribution that Silurian volunteers have made and showcases what we have learnt from the data that has been diligently collected. If your wondering what your time spent on board will achieve, check it out. It’s also a great resource to find out about the nine most common species recorded from on board.

Life Aboard Silurian

The live-aboard Expedition Surveys are an awesome experience, but don’t take our word for it…have a read of the blog to get a first-hand account from participants on board.



Volunteers join our team on board to work alongside the HWDT crew as marine mammal field biologists. Absolutely no experience is required as full training in visual and acoustic data collection is provided by the excellent crew on board during these live-aboard monitoring expeditions.


Expedition Survey

The core of the Cetacean Research Programme. Each year we attempt to survey as much of the Scottish west coast as possible. Trip itineraries aren’t pre-planned, so you will never be quite sure where you will end up on your expedition. Maybe you will travel far west of the Outer Hebrides or sail around the breath taking Argyll Isles. Adventure awaits. 

  • Duration: 7-12 days

  • Cost: from £995 per person

  • Participant age: 18+

Joint Warrior Survey

Surveys are scheduled to coincide with the NATO military exercise, Joint Warrior, in spring and autumn each year. The Trust believe it is important to monitor cetacean presence and behaviour during these exercises.  Unusual behaviour has been documented historically and we are committed to better understanding the impact of these activities on cetaceans.

  • Duration: 7-12 days

  • Cost: from £995 per person

  • Participant age: 18+

Teen Team Survey

Teen Team Surveys provide a fantastic experience for younger environmentalists, with participants gaining the fundamental skills required to forge a career in marine conservation.  The protocol during the Teen Team Surveys is exactly the same as the Expedition Survey, however there will be more staff provision to offer insight and support.

  • Duration: 7 days

  • Cost: £1,050 per person

  • Participant age: 16-17

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Track Silurian Live Through the Hebrides!

If the map does not show Silurian's position in the centre of the screen, it is because she is out of range (e.g. too far offshore). You might need to try again later. When out of range, the map defaults to Silurian's mooring in Tobermory Bay.

If the map is not showing correctly on your device please follow this link to the full screen map


Silurian Survey Timetable

Surveys run between April and October each year. Departing from the Tobermory (the captial of the Isle of Mull and HWDTs base), Kyle of Lochalsh (where the bridge from the Isle of Skye meets the Mainland) and Ullapool.
Search the calendar or click on the button below for details, dates and costs of each survey expedition.

The 2020 timetable is currently in development and will be published very shortly. If you are interested in joining us on board next year, please complete a booking form below and we will contact you with dates once available.


Silurian Booking Form

Join HWDT aboard Silurian and actively contribute to the research needed to protect cetaceans for future generations.

Get on board by completing the form below :

Name *
Please select from the options provided
Survey Date
Survey Date
Please tell us the start date of your survey of interest
If Teen Team selected