The second Ullapool to Stornoway survey looked promising as the team arrived on the bridge of the Loch Seaforth. As we left Loch Broom, before we had even unpacked the survey kit, 4 common dolphins raced to the bow of the ship. Inevitably these had to go down as incidental sightings. Apart from a couple of grey seal sightings these were the only marine mammals recorded on the first leg of the survey. The Minch was extremely busy with both commercial traffic and naval vessels on exercise with the annual Nato Joint Warrior Exercises taking place. As we approached Stornoway we had good views through our binoculars of grey and common seals hauled out on the skerries in the entrance to the harbour.
The naval vessels had seemingly left the immediate area on the return journey but the sea state rose to a 5 throughout the crossing. However, soon after leaving Stornoway we did briefly pick up a partically breaching minke whale.
We enjoyed the full range of seabirds that have now returned to the area in good numbers and spotted everything from kittiwakes to puffins. As we approached Loch Broom we could see a white tailed eagle above Priest Island being harrassed by the great skuas there.
Thank you to an extremely friendly Captain and crew for making us so welcome and, as always, thank you to CalMac for supporting our essential data collection.
Minke whale x1
Greay seal 3
Common seal 1
Atlantic Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Northern fulmar, Black guillemot, Northern gannet, Herring gull, Great black backed gull, Shag, Great skua, White tailed eagle
Andy Gilbert, Beth Harvey, Casey McEwan