[MARMAM] Join a research survey in the Scottish Hebrides

Gemma Cave dollyfinz at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 7 06:26:44 PDT 2011



  The Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust (HWDT) are recruiting
  participants to join a boat based research expedition off the west coast of
  Scotland, between the 27th June and 6th July @
  just £500pp 


Rendezvous location is Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.  You will spend
10 days onboard, with 8 full days at sea on survey effort.  Full training
in survey methods will be provided before and during the research
survey.  The area surveyed will depend largely on recent
sightings, weather and at the Skippers discretion.  Departure from
the vessel will also be from Tobermory.   

Research Aims 

The data collected by HWDT is vital for the effective monitoring of
marine life within the survey area.   Research methodology involves
systematic line-transect surveys and passive acoustic monitoring using a towed
hydrophone.  The data that HWDT gathers is used to estimate relative
abundance, describe fine-scale spatial and temporal distribution, identify
high-use habitats and monitor anthropogenic impacts. The visual and
acoustic data collected during the research survey contributes to HWDT’s
extensive dataset.  HWDT works closely with conservation and management
agencies to identify species and their habitats that are suitable for

Research Area 

A combination of complex water mixing and varied seabed topography,
as well as the influence of the Gulf Stream, has resulted in the Hebrides
being one of the most productive areas in  Europe .  However,
despite the diversity of cetacean species in the region, management strategies
allowing for the conservation of priority species have yet to be implemented.
  There are resident populations of bottlenose dolphin, harbour
porpoise and a small, unique pod of orca which frequent the
area.  Commonly sighted species are minke whales, common dolphins and
basking sharks. Other wildlife regularly encountered includes grey and common
seals, otters and numerous sea bird species.  White-sided and white-beaked
dolphins, Risso's dolphins and humpback whales have also been sighted from
onboard Silurian.  


The Vessel 

Silurian, HWDT’s research vessel, has been owned and operated by HWDT since 2001,
and was previously used in the filming of The Blue Planet.  Large and
sturdy, this is the perfect vessel for conducting scientific surveys in the
Hebrides .  She is 16 metres long and can sleep 10 people
comfortably.  There are three participant cabins in the forward section of
the vessel.  Each of these contains two berths and a small amount of
storage space for personal belongings.  There are two bathrooms onboard,
crew quarters, a galley and a saloon.   


Participant Requirements and Duties 

This is an excellent opportunity for those who wish to gain experience
in the field; invaluable if you wish to pursue a career studying
cetaceans.  Past experience isn’t a prerequisite, although would be
favourable.  Good eyesight and hearing is required to run an efficient
survey, as is a good pair of sea legs.  Participants will gain experience in
marine mammal and seabird identification, visual and acoustic data collection
including software use (Logger, PAMGUARD and Rainbow Click), photo
identification training and the skills acquired from living and working aboard
a yacht.  


The research expedition will involve early starts and late finishes,
optimising the daylight hours available.  Participant tasks are rotated on
an hourly basis.   All participants are required to help out with the
day to day running of the vessel, sharing cooking and cleaning duties.   Evenings
will be spent anchored in a remote bay, where you may have the opportunity to
venture ashore.  In the event of foul weather, contingency activities
will be provided. 


The survey will run from Monday 27th June – Wednesday 6th


Unfortunately the budget of this project is very limited so there is a
fee of £500 to participate, strictly to cover boat expenses.  This is a
very exclusive offer, with the cost of participating usually a minimum of
£1,000.  Costs include accommodation (onboard Silurian), insurance
while onboard the vessel and food.  

For more information, please contact Morven Summers: volunteercoordinator at hwdt.org or 01688 302620

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