Hebridean Marine Explorers Week
Fresh back from the Easter break, local primary schools on the Isle of Skye will be taking learning outdoors this week, with pupils joining the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) on board their specialised research yacht, Silurian.
Throughout the week, Silurian will become a floating classroom, hosting primary schools from across Skye, Raasay and Kyle of Lochalsh. Pupils will have the chance to actively explore the yacht, learn about marine mammals, and discover what life is like on board as a marine scientist. Sessions have been designed to inspire students, spark interest in the marine environment and help inform the decision-makers of the future.
Pippa Garrard, the Trust’s Community Engagement Officer, says, “We are very excited to be revisiting Skye (our last floating classroom trip was in 2009). It’s vital to connect local children with their marine environment, whilst raising awareness of the opportunities available for those with an interest in marine conservation. Particularly when these children are growing up in the heart of the Hebrides, with so many species of whales and dolphins seen right on their doorstep.”
HWDT is dedicated to the conservation of Scotland’s whales, dolphins and porpoises, and the unique Hebridean marine environment. Thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the Trust received £20,000 this year from People’s Local Trust, to fund their new engagement project - Hebridean Marine Explorers. This project aims to provide schools across the west coast with new, immersive outdoor learning experiences, bringing the marine environment to life, and offering unique opportunities such as floating classrooms.
Following their visit to Skye, Silurian will return to sail the Hebrides, undertaking visual and acoustic research on whales, dolphins and porpoises. This is part of HWDT’s unique long-term citizen science project, with data collected on board informing local and national conservation efforts. These annual surveys depend on paying volunteers, trained by the team to monitor and become marine mammal scientists for the duration on their trip.
While the yacht is alongside at Kyle of Lochalsh and Portree this week, the Trust are inviting local people to come on board and explore. There will be a chance to meet the team and gain an insight into life on board; the volunteer experience and the Trust’s latest research findings. Tours of the boat will run informally between 4pm and 6pm on Tuesday 25th April and Thursday 27th April respectively.
Siobhan Moran, HWDTs Engagement Volunteer, adds “If you’ve seen Silurian passing and wondered what we do, join us aboard during one of our Open Boats to say hello and find out more”.
By visiting local communities and encouraging an active participation in marine science, the Trust hopes to connect people with their marine environment, encouraging environmental stewardship for the future.