2018-06-06 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2018-06-06

Number of nights: Day sailing

Risso's dolphin off the bow of MV Loch Seaforth

Survey sightings

Cetacean sightings: N/A

Bird sightings: N/A

Other animals: N/A

Low winds and sunshine were forecast for this most northerly of the Hebridean surveys and throughout the day the sea state remained at 2 and visibility was good across the Minch to the Isle of Lewis and back.  Our team of three accessed the bridge as we left Loch Broom and were starting to pass the Summer Isles.  

The first sighting came half way across when we picked up a group of 9 bottlenose dolphins feeding a third of the way to the horizon.  Very excited by this, our team remained vigilant and were rewarded a wonderful sighting of three very scarred Risso’s dolphins passing infront of the bow on the ridge approaching Stornoway.  We always expected this route to pick up Risso’s and it was great to do so on the third survey of the season.

The return journey to Ullapool was uneventful until two thirds of the way back when a mile off the Summer Isles a coastguard helicopter visited the ship for a practice exercise.  As the winchman hung from a line in the ocean beside The Loch Seaforth two harbour porpoise were spotting racing away from the vessel heading southwest and  two common dolphins were picked up rapidly moving away from the ship in the opposite direction.  With the helicopter drill over, as we cruised down Loch Broom towards Ullapool, we picked up another three porpoise in the calm waters.

As always, a huge thanks goes to the crew for making us so welcome on the bridge and to CalMac Ferries for supporting our surveys.


Marine Mammals

Bottlenose dolphin x9

Risso’s dolphin x3

Common dolphin x2

Harbour porpoise x5

Common & Grey Seal x3



Guillemot, Razorbill, Black guillemot, Puffin, Shag, Great skua, Kittiwake, Herring gull, Gannet, Great black backed gull – 3 being pursued by a bonxie., Common gull, Arctic tern

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Hugh Toobey, Clara Douglas