I’m sure it was the lure of more Ginger Nuts but we were successful in getting everyone out of bed and onto the boat for a 4am start – we didn’t of course tell them that we hadn’t been shopping and were now down to the bourbon creams and digestives – they’d soon find out but by then it would be too late….they’d be adrift at sea!!
The sunrise (0413hrs) was sadly unspectacular (this may have had something to do with the complete cloud cover), the sea conditions on the other hand were very pleasing indeed and would make for good survey conditions. To set the scene and help you get an idea as to exactly what we were doing out there, the plan went something like this. Each shift lasts half an hour and with 7 crew members (not including Skipper Davy and First-mate Iris) we rotate (very punctually) through the following stations: - Bow / Data Logger / Break / Port / Starboard / Acoustics / Break. When we have additional assistance we include a bird shift after the last break but when limited in people we stick to the cetaceans!
The (early) morning was a very quiet affair for both sightings and general hilarity – when not on watch everyone tried to grab 30 winks! The waters of the Moray Firth weren’t throwing up too much of interest, even the birds appeared to still be in bed and it was spookily quiet out on the moving sheet of black velvet. With the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting due to begin on the 22nd June in Madeira it is a very timely thought that one could be forgiven for thinking that the Norwegians and/or Icelanders had been out here pillaging the minkes from under our noses……and you never know, they could very well be the same ones being targeted just now by the whaling vessels parading the North Atlantic. We know so very little about the minke whale in the Moray Firth, more specifically where they go when they leave or where they’ve been when they arrive. It could be “our” minkes that are running the gauntlet of the whalers harpoon……food for thought eh?
All was not lost however and over the next few hours we logged not only a minke but several porpoises, some grey seals (including one that had obviously been dead for a while) and a variety of our feathered friends, including several young gannets, the lesser seen black guillemot, a manx shearwater and a great skua! We also have a conundrum to solve – see the image below and let us know if you know what it is…..!!
Before long we were back on dry land and it was home for a slap-up Sunday Roast (free-range of course) courtesy of our lovely volunteers! (They appear to have forgiven us for the lack of Ginger nuts!)
Tomorrow it’s another early start and the plan is to head for Fraserburgh where we’ll anchor for the evening before returning the following day! Hopefully being a bit more coastal we’ll encounter a few more of the Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins. We’re also to be joined by one of our dear ex-colleagues, the infamous Mr Simon Keith is to grace us with his presence and become crew member no. 8!!
Tune in again tomorrow, if we can find internet access (and Ginger nuts) in the far east (of Scotland) that is, to find out more!!