The waters surrounding Scotland’s Hebrides are rich in marine mammals but lack well-researched conservation programs.
The waters surrounding the Hebrides of Scotland provide an important habitat for European cetaceans, and they are among the most significant areas in Europe for these fascinating mammals. The overall goal of this project was to provide detailed information on the number and distribution of cetaceans in the region. Identifying habitats of greatest importance to cetaceans is a vital step toward their effective management.
Volunteers traveled to the far north of Scotland, where they joined Earthwatch researchers and project staff on board the 60-foot Silurian, a Bermudan rigged ketch with two masts. For two weeks, they lived and worked together, surveying the rich Hebridean seas for 24 cetacean species, including the minke whale, common dolphin, white-beaked dolphin, and harbor porpoise.
In addition to observing cetaceans, the team observed basking sharks, common and gray seals, otters, turtles sunfish, and many thousands of nesting and breeding seabirds. They also logged vessel traffic and marine litter as part of an effort to better manage and conserve the oceans.
During their expedition the volunteers lived and worked at sea, sharing living quarters, meals, and recreational time.