A year ago, CalMac Ferries launched their new Marine Awareness Programme at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban. The project aims to monitor and raise awareness of the marine environment in the West of Scotland, and brings together organisations, including MARINElife, JNCC, Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland, and ORCA to coordinate citizen science monitoring and engagement programmes. MARINElife are using our vast experience in ferry-based research to coordinate the bird monitoring branch of the project.
Just last month, the inaugural VSAS surveys were carried out with the support of CalMac ferries over the weekend of April 13th and 14th.
Survey teams operated on the Ullapool to Stornoway, Oban to Castlebay (Barra) and Kennacraig to Islay crossings. So far, feedback from those involved suggests a wide variety of species were recorded, with some highlights being Manx shearwaters and great skuas, which are beginning to arrive back into Scottish waters.
Additionally, the VSAS program has been on tour, with the first event being the SEECC at Glasgow University. It was a very well run and attended event, and covered the upcoming surveys, training opportunities, and how to get involved.
Plenty more has been going on with this project over the last few months, all of which can be read about in the VSAS newsletter.