The final Ullapool-Stornoway survey of the season promised to be a good one with dolphins and Minke whales having been seen in the area by the team leader the day before and along with a low wind forecast, the team were keen to get started.
As we cruised up Loch Broom the team situated themselves on the outside decks and recorded porpoise incidentally before being allowed to access the bridge. Whilst re-locating to the bridge common dolphins were sighted by the crew and lucky passengers. Unfortunately, by the time the survey team was in position they had been and gone. The sea state was good, ranging between 1-2 across the Minch all the way to Stornoway, but apart from some porpoise and an Arctic skua, little else of note was seen.
Things improved on the return leg, despite a rise in sea state, and both port and starboard surveyors picked up a Minke whale crossing the bow not far from Stornoway. A couple of common dolphins showed half way across the Minch and another Minke whale was recorded. Approximately 15 common dolphins were seen in small groups on the eastern side of the Minch around the Summer Isles and as we went into Loch Broom more harbour porpoise were recorded.
There were lots of bonxies in the Minch and an Arctic skua, many of which were harrassing the good numbers of juvenile kittiwakes that were about.
A huge thank you goes to the crew of the Loch Seaforth for making us so welcome this season and also to CalMac ferries for facilitating our research.
Harbour porpoise 6
Common dolphins 16
Minke whales 2
Great black backed gull , herring gull, manx shearwater, Arctic tern, great skua, Arctic skua, guillemot, razorbill, shag, kittiwake, fulmar, gannet and great black backed gull.
Andy Gilbert, Alastair MacGugan, Gemma Nowrie