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Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust | Whale & Dolphin Watching

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin TrustCommon dolphin from Silurian (M. Brook)Volunteers on visual survey (HWDT)Orca on west coast (G. Leaper)Basking shark on the bow (R. Pickering)Silurian off St Kilda (P. Stevick)

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) is dedicated to enhancing knowledge and understanding of Scotland’s whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) and the Hebridean marine environment through education, research and working within Hebridean communities as a basis for the lasting conservation of local species and habitats.

Every year HWDT welcome onboard enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to contribute directly to our research work. Volunteers in effect become marine mammal scientists for the duration of the survey, living and working onboard the vessel, assisting with day-to-day running, as well as working together as a team to carry out cetacean surveys. Find out more on our website.

As a volunteer onboard Silurian, you will have the opportunity to see at first hand the amazing variety of marine wildlife Britain has to offer including whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sharks and seabirds. You will explore some of the remotest, wildest parts of the British Isles, usually anchoring for the night in a secluded bay off one of the many islands and venturing ashore to explore.  The opportunity to gain sailing experience is also available, although no certificates are issued. Book now on our website.

Please note that this is a scientific marine survey and not a whale watching trip.


April • May • June • July • August • September



Vessel types

Live-aboard boat • Under sail / Yacht

Times and prices

Dates for the 2012 season will be announced shortly.

For more information and prices, or to make a booking, please visit our website.

About our skippers and naturalist guides

Biodiversity Officer: Olivia Harries

Olivia recently graduated from St Andrews University with a MRes in Marine Mammal Science. Her interests lie within population biology and ecological and environmental modelling. Her Masters thesis analysed data collected from whale watching operations and assessed whether such platforms of opportunity could contribute to the data required for conservation and management. She has conducted marine mammal based field work in Honduras, Central America; Plettenberg Bay, South Africa; Florida, USA and in Cardigan Bay, Wales.

Skipper: Dave Hanna

Dave has skippered Silurian over many thousands of miles since 2005. He has sailed yachts around the west coast of Scotland for both work and pleasure for over 15 years. He also works as a mountaineering instructor in Scotland and elsewhere and is a member of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team.

First Mate: Emma Burgess

Emma grew up in Bendoran Boatyard on the Ross of Mull. She graduated with a BSc in Marine Biology in 2007. Since then Emma has worked locally with Turus Mara, on trips to Staffa and the Treshnish Islands, qualified and worked as a commercial diver, and worked on deck of various vessels in Scotland, the Mediterranean and off Africa.

Visit the staff section of our website to find out more about who's who at HWDT.


Access to wheelhouse • Deck with 360?vision • Hands-on materials (bones, shells etc) • Naturalist guide(s) as well as skipper • On board hydrophone • On-site visitor center / museum • Onboard research • Posters / displays / maps • Public participation in research • Reading material available • Restrooms / toilets on board • Scenic backdrop to encounters • Snacks / drinks • Support conservation • Use a code of conduct

We frequently

Baleen Whales

Minke Whale

Ocean Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphin • Short-beaked Common Dolphin


Harbour Porpoise

Other wildlife and points of interest

Our trips offer a unique opportunity to participate in cetacean research on a fully-equipped survey vessel. We cannot guarantee seeing any animals, but over a season it is likely that we will encounter harbour porpoises, minke whales, common dolphins, common and grey seals and basking sharks. We occassionally see killer whales, bottlenose dolphins and other whale species. During the trip you can expect to see a wide variety of seabirds and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Hebrides.

28 Main Street, Tobermory
Town / City
Isle of Mull
State / County
Zip / Postcode
PA75 6NU
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1688 302620
Lyn Clifton
Loved it *_*
Traveled: 1901-12-13, Reviewed: 2012-06-30
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
Having been on 2 trips with HWDT, 2009 and 2011, I cannot recommend the experience enough! If you love sailing on the sea (as I do) and you have an interest in observing the marinelife within and the birds which fly above, eager to increase your knowledge and asist in the conservation of our wonderful cetaceans and meet other like-minded folk, then this is the trip for you!

With a captain, a mate and a science officer, 6 volunteers share the experience of life onboard Silurian and work 'watches' from stem to stern and also below, listening to and recording acoustics and registering the sea state. Its all a great experience and a terrific learning curve whether you are new to cetacean spotting or a veteran!

And, of course, you do all this in the most wonderful and beautiful part of the UK, the Hebrides; what more could you ask for, check out HWDT website and join us all at Whalefest 2012 - I'll be there - will you?
Lois Lydon
Just waiting for plane fares to come down to go back -
Traveled: 2007-09-14, Reviewed: 2011-08-18
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
As a volunteer through Earthwatch, I joined 5 others plus crew on a 9 day adventure sailing the Inner Hebrides looking for porpoises, sea birds, tracking ocean conditions and just generally having the time of my life in spite of typical Scotland weather in Sept. The boat was comfortable and large enough to not feel crowded yet small enough that you get the opportunity to become friends with both the other volunteers and crew. The other volunteers were from the US, Ireland, England, Wales and Europe.

The crew was friendly and always there to answer questions, whether about sea life, the islands we were sailing by, sailing itself or just their lives as researchers. While we didn't see many porpoises we did see other marine life and plenty of sea birds, not mention learning about sailing. Foul weather gear was supplied (and much needed and appreciated) and meals were hearty - including haggis.

To sum up: The pros were: friendly and informative crew and researchers, the opportunity to meet a mixed group of people with similar interests but in many ways very different life styles, sailing among some of the most beautiful islands of Scotland, learning research protocols and how they are used along with more information about Whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Hebrides, along with the birds and other marine life in the area. Falling asleep to the lap of waves against the hull of the boat as we anchored off another deserted island to spend the night. The cons: Not seeing many porpoises (or dolphins or whales) and the weather.

Bottom line - if I could afford it I would do it again and would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend.
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2013 Responsible Whale Watch Partnership:Click here to read more about the partnership