Olivia Harries olivia_harries at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 11 08:41:48 PST 2012



The Hebridean Whale
& Dolphin Trust (HWDT) are recruiting participants to join boat based
research expeditions off the west coast of Scotland, between May and September
2012.  Costs of participating range from
£850 - £1,100. 


Rendezvous location is either
Tobermory on the Isle of Mull or Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.  You
will spend up to 10 days onboard, with 8 full days at sea on survey
effort.  Full training in survey methods will be provided before and
during the survey.  The area surveyed will depend largely on weather, recent
sightings, and at the Science Officer and Skippers discretion but will
range between the Mull of Kintyre in the south, the Butt of Lewis in the north
and St Kilda in the west.  Departure from the vessel will be at the
respective rendezvous location.   

 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 killer whale which
frequent the area.  Commonly sighted species are harbour porpoise, 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 dolphin, Risso's dolphin and
humpback whale 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

 Dates and costs

7th -13th May,
rendezvous in Tobermory, cost is £850

16th -22nd May,
rendezvous in Tobermory, cost is £850

27th May – 5th June,
rendezvous in Tobermory, cost is £1,000

10th – 18th June,
rendezvous in Stornoway, cost is £1,100

31st Aug – 8th
Sept, rendezvous in Tobermory, cost is £1,000

 Unfortunately the budget of
this project is very limited, the costs outlined strictly cover boat expenses
and allow HWDT to continue the boat based programme.  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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