[MARMAM] Join a cetacean research survey in the Scottish Hebrides - REDUCED RATES

Olivia Harries olivia_harries at hotmail.com
Tue Apr 10 06:14:00 PDT 2012

The Hebridean Whale
& Dolphin Trust (HWDT) are recruiting participants to join a boat based
research expedition off the west coast of Scotland running from 16th
– 22nd May 2012.   The berths
are being offered at an exclusive cost of £600 (usually £850).


Rendezvous location is in
Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.  You will spend 7 days onboard, with 5
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 Science
Officer and Skippers discretion.  Departure from the vessel will 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 protection. 

 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 population of orca which frequent the
area.  Commonly sighted species are minke whales, common dolphins,
white beaked dolphins and basking sharks. Other wildlife regularly encountered
includes grey and common seals, otters and numerous sea bird species. 
White-sided, 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. 

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


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