2019-03-25 - Oban–Castlebay

Survey details

Survey route: Oban–Castlebay

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-03-25

Number of nights: 1

MV Isle of Lewis at Castlebay

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

After the storms of the last week we were pleased to meet up at Oban Ferry Terminal in the knowledge that the 24 hr forecast was pretty good for this time of year. Throughout both sailings the sea state ranged from 2-5 and visibility was good. On the outward crossing our first sightings arrived after we had left the Sound of Mull and were heading towards the Cairns of Coll.  We started picking up manx shearwaters and auks on the water and over the course of a mile or so we counted 15 harbour porpoise.

Hawes bank was relatively quiet but throughout the sailing we also recorded 6 common dolphins in small groups either side of the bank.

The overnight stay in Dunards Hostel, overlooking the harbour on Castlebay, was more than comfortable and we left the hostel at around 07:20 the next morning ready for another crack at the Southern Minch.  Captain Lewis MacKenzie and his crew were extremely accommodating and we were soon happily setting up our equipment on the bridge. The wind had risen slightly and we experienced sea states ranging from 4-5. Throughout the course of the next couple of hours we recorded 10 common dolphins, approaching the ship and bow riding, again in small groups. As we entered the mouth of the Sound of Mull we picked up a solitary harbour porpoise close to the Mull coast.  As we exited the Sound and passed Lismore Island another pair of common dolphins briefly showed themselves at the front of the boat to round off the survey sightings.

Thank you to the Captain and Crew of CalMac Ferries MV Isle of Lewis for making us so welcome and supporting our long term research.

Marine Mammals

Harbour porpoise  16

Common dolphin  18


Guillemot, black guillemot, great northern diver, common gull, shag, cormorant, grey heron, manx shearwater, gannet, herring gull, great black-backed gull, razorbill, kittiwake, lesser black-backed gull and great skua.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Heather Bodie, Nichola Simpson, Alan Sumnall