2019-09-22 - Oban–Tiree–Coll–Oban–Colonsay-Oban

Survey details

Survey route: Oban–Tiree–Coll–Oban–Colonsay-Oban

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-09-22

Number of nights: Day sailing

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

We left Oban with fair condition forecast and soon after exiting the harbour we were given access to the bridge.  As a result, we were able to start surveying immediately and record 4 harbour porpoise and 1 common seal around Lismore Light.

As usual the Sound of Mull was quiet until we exited into the Sea of Hebrides with two more common seals and another harbour porpoise recorded. As we approached the Isle of Coll we also picked up an incidental Minke whale.

Leaving the harbour a Minke whale appeared again and we were able to record it within the parameters of the distance sampling.

On our way back to Coll from Tiree, 6 common dolphins raced to the ship.  That was the last sighting we had on this leg of the survey on the return to Oban.

The afternoon and evening survey to Colonsay and back was also productive. The sea state had dropped nicely and ranged between 0-2. We recorded another 15 harbour porpoise, 2 of which initially tricked us into thinking they must be dolphins with the speed and porpoising that they exhibited. One large group of 9 porpoise was also exceptional. Not far off Colonsay we recorded another Minke whale.

 A couple of dolphins appeared as we left Colonsay, 1 of which was definitely a common dolphin.  Another 4 harbour porpoise showed before we lost the light and had to call it a day.

A huge thanks to Captain Norrie and his crew for making us so welcome and allowing us to undertake these important surveys. 

Marine Mammals Seen:

Harbour porpoise 21

Common dolphin 14

Minke whale 3

Harbour seal 3


Guillemot, gannet, kittiwake, shag, hooded crow, razorbill, Arctic skua, red throated diver, common gull, great black backed gull, herring gull and grey heron.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Jo Beaton, Robert Greenwood, Alistair MacGugan