Survey Reports

2019-09-16 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-09-16

Number of nights: Day sailing

It was pretty windy even in Loch Broome today when we started surveying on the bridge of MV Loch Seaforth. For both legs of the survey we experienced a sea state of 4-5 creating a lot of white water and difficult conditions to spot marine mammals in. Our first sighting of the day was recorded by first time surveyor Rachel, who spotted 3 common dolphins right infront of the bow. That was the only sighting of the crossing from Ullapool to Stornoway.


The return crossing was more productive. Soon after we left Stornoway 4 large dolphins were spotted very briefly ahead of the ship porpoising out of the waves in a chorus line formation before disappearing into the choppy seas. These were larger than common dolphins but were seen so briefly that they had to go down as unidentified.


A while later a group of 4 harbour porpoise scrambled to move out of the way of the ferry and surveyors looking down from above had fantastic views of them swimming below the water away from the ship.  


Half way across the Minch another group of 7 common dolphins raced to the ship and some time after 4 more appeared.


We also had some great bird sightings with migrating whooper swans, storm petrels and a number of pale phase Arctic Skuas.


As always the crew of Loch Seaforth made us very welcome and we would like to thank them and CalMac for supporting our conservation work.


Marine Mammals Seen:


Harbour porpoise 4


Common dolphin 14


Unidentified dolphin 4


Birds Seen:


Gannet, great Skua, great Northern diver, fulmar, guillemot, Arctic tern, Arctic skua, storm petrel, razorbill, whooper swan, kittiwake and great black backed gull.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Rachel Buckley, Janine Yarwood