Survey Reports

2019-06-10 - Oban–Castlebay

Survey details

Survey route: Oban–Castlebay

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-06-10

Number of nights: 1

^ Kisimul Castle, Castlebay

We boarded the MV Isle of Lewis in the sunshine on Mon 10th June ready for our survey to Barra. Conditions were breezy but not too choppy so we were hoping for lots of sightings. It was calm and quiet through the Sound of Mull and we were treated to a close up view of a golden eagle as it flew over the ferry and stunning views of the small Isles as we cruised past Ardnamurchan Point. Shortly after we left the Sound of Mull I spotted a harbour porpoise close to the ship raising our expectations that we would be kept busy for the remainder of the trip. However as we left the shelter of Mull more white caps appeared making spotting more difficult. Choppy conditions remained all the way across the Minch and we had no further sightings.


We crossed our fingers and hoped for a busier return journey.


We boarded the ferry again bright and early on Tuesday 11th, the day was slightly cooler and more cloudy but shortly after leaving Castlebay Jan spotted a basking shark off the starboard side of the ship. The Minch was even choppier than the first day making crossing the bridge a little tricky but a while later Jan spotted 2 groups of common dolphins coming towards the ferry and as we approached the Hawe’s Bank Alistair spotted a Minke whale. We were treated to beautiful views of the Coll and Tiree as we entered calmer water closer to Mull and conditions were perfectly calm in the Sound of Mull but we had no more sightings on our way back to Oban.


Thanks to the team for their hard work and to the Captain and crew of the Isle of Lewis for their hospitality.


Cetacean Sightings


1x harbour porpoise


1x Minke whale


2 groups common dolphins 


Bird list


 Oyster catcher, Black guillemot, Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet, Great Skua, Fulmar, Common tern, Arctic tern, Manx shearwater, Kittiwake, Puffin, Golden eagle, Shag, Great black backed gull, Eider duck.

^ The survey team ready for action bright and early on day 2

Survey team members

Jane Dodd, Alastair MacGugan, Andrew Ferguson, Jan Storie