Survey Reports

2019-05-06 - Oban–Castlebay

Survey details

Survey route: Oban–Castlebay

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-05-06

Number of nights: 1

The team met in Oban Ferry Terminal full of Bank Holiday Monday travellers and the four surveyors boarded MV Isle of Lewis for our two day survey to the Outer Hebrides with an overnight on Barra.


As always the Sound of Mull was relatively quiet but it was lovely to see the newly returned Arctic Terns feeding in the sound. We had good visibility with a sea state ranging from 2-4 as we crossed the open water of the Sea of Hebrides. We had high expectations as the crew were reporting seeing dolphins and Minke whales over the last few sailings. Either side of Hawes bank we picked up a small number of common dolphins and a single Minke whale.


The return leg was initially pretty quiet with an incidental sighting of a Minke whale by one of the officers but we were unable to locate it again. But later, as we passed the Cairns of Coll, common dolphins started racing to the bow and a stream of approximately 100 dolphins showed themselves over a five minute period.  Not long after that the port observer had another Minke surface close to the ship. Needless to say the team were excited and happy with the sightings.The rest of the survey was rounded off with seal sightings and a harbour porpoise sighting either side of the sound before we returned to Oban with big grins on our faces.


Thankyou to CalMac and the Captain and crew of MV Isle of Lewis for allowing us to continue our bio-diversity monitoring.     


Marine mammals


Harbour Porpoise 2


Common Dolphins 120+


Minke whale 3


Common & Grey seal 3


Bird list


Kittiwake, common gull, herring gull, gannet, guillemot, black guillemot, razorbill, puffin, great skua, red throated diver, great Northern Diver, Arctic terns, barn swallow and turnstone

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Joanne Beaton, Joe Jeffcoate, Rachel Mawer