Ullapool-Stornoway

2019-08-12 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-08-12

Number of nights: Day sailing

We were greeted by the crew at the gangway with tales of dolphins at Rue Point so the team was excited to get started. When we arrived on the bridge the wind was higher than we anticipated and we had a pretty quiet crossing in a sea state 4. There were quite a lot of seabirds around but we didn’t pick up any cetaceans until close to Stornoway Harbour where a probable small Minke whale showed in the very same area where another Minke had been recorded by the Wildlife Officer the day before.


The return leg remained choppy. Just off Lewis we counted 4 pale Arctic skuas and watched a tussle between one of them and a kittiwake. Soon after a group of 8 common dolphins (including a couple of calves) raced in to the ship giving us views in amongst the waves.This was to be our only dolphins of the crossing. Despite the sea state reducing on the eastern side of the Minch we didn’t pick up anything else apart from one grey seal and 2 boats of rowers undertaking the mammoth crossing of the Minch from Stornoway to Ullapool in aid of MS. 


Despite the lack of cetaceans we had a great survey and would like to thank the captain and crew of MV Loch Seaforth for their continuing support and facilitation of our bio-diversity monitoring.


Marine Mammals Seen:


Common dolphins 8


Minke whale 1


Grey seal 1


Birds Seen:


Kittiwake, shag, guillemot, razorbill, puffin, fulmar, gannet, Arctic skua, Arctic tern, great skua and great black-backed gull

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Jan Storie, Eleanor Butler

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2019-07-15 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-07-15

Number of nights: Day sailing

With fantastic conditions and a sea state 1-0 we started recording as soon as we reached the bridge. Our first Minke whale appeared at the mouth of Loch Broome and soon after we recorded 7 harbour porpoise as we sailed through the Summer Isles. We continued to record porpoise for the rest of the crossing. A third of the way across the Minch another Minke whale showed itself and soon after common dolphins started to arrive. A group of 24 raced to the ship initially, then a group of ten, followed by a group of 15. Yet another Minke was recorded during the second half of the crossing and at one stage a pod of over 50 common dolphins appeared. It was also lovely to spot a number of tiny storm petrels flitting about infront of the ship. On the approach to Stornoway another 25 dolphins were recorded within sight of the harbour.


With such an amazing outgoing survey we were excited to start the second leg. But in comparison it was surprisingly quiet for the first half of the return. It seemed that everything had moved east and it wasn’t until we had crossed half of the Minch that we started spotting cetaceans again. Lots of porpoise and common dolphins were sighted again and another 2 Minke whales. The last Minke was breaching on approach to the Summer Islands and we wound up the survey on a high.


Many thanks to the captain and crew of Loch Seaforth for making us so welcome!    


Marine Mammals seen:


Harbour porpoise x37


Unidentified dolphin x7


Common dolphin x243


Minke whale x5


Birds seen: 


Shag, guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake, puffin, fulmar, great skua, European storm petrel and manx shearwater.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, David Lambie. Linda Wallace

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2019-06-17 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-06-17

Number of nights: Day sailing

After leaving Ullapool we were given access to the bridge as we passed the Summer Isles. We found sea state 3 and clear conditions.Bird life was relatively quiet during both crossings but we were rewarded with cetaceans!


Half way across an incidental record was taken of half a dozen unidentified dolphins racing away from the back of the ship at distance. Encouraged by this sighting we soon picked up another four common dolphins racing to the bow on the starboard side. Half an hour later half a dozen more common dolphins showed at the port bow.


The rest of the journey into Stornoway was quiet apart from a beautiful view of a great skua and an Arctic skua crossing infront of the ship together.


The return journey drew a blank until we reached Loch Broom on the approach to Ullapool and in sea state 2 we recorded 4 harbour porpoise, including one calf.


Many thanks to the captain and crew of MV Loch Seaforth and CalMac Ferries for making us welcome and allowing us to continue our work.


Marine Mammals:


Unidentified dolphins 6


Common dolphins 10


Harbour porpoise 4


Birds


Gannet, kittiwake, guillemot, puffin, razorbill, black guillemot, great skua, Arctic skua, great black backed gull, common gull.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Karen Douglas, Gemma Nowrie

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