The science is starting!

At last we’ve got started into this season’s science programme. We’re here to find out what’s happening at this breeding colony by looking at what our known females (some we’ve seen here since 1998) are doing. The North Rona colony has been in decline for some time now, our studies are suggesting that there are a number of reasons for this.

Already we’ve spotted at least 15 of the known girls using their unique coat patterns, and recorded a birth on video. Unfortunately we can’t download it because of bandwidth restrictions, but it will go up on the site eventually.


The team is settling into a working routine – not much enthusiasm for early starts……

We need to say a belated thank you to:

the Wild Orchid folks in Durness; John and especially Hugh at PDG (we appreciated it); Hamish, Roisin & Tara for their marvellous hospitality; drivers Lauren & Ross (what a team); Sean and family, and last but not least last year’s team for hiding/removing things which made for an exciting first few days- some anxious moments when the cooker couldn’t be found!


P, A, C & L.

Tuesday 25th

Plenty of jobs to get through today. But the most exciting thing was our trip over to the top of the slope to see how the colony was doing. It was blowing a full gale from the north, so the wind was straight in our faces, making it almost impossible to hold binoculars steady. Down below us there were 15 females, 6 pups and 2 males – the real start of the season.

It seems to have been a very dry year so far – there’s not much water in the well, so a wee bit of rain wouldn’t go amiss.

We promised introductory pics – here’s the team.
P, A, C, L.

 	Charlotte has her feet on the ground again
Paddy looking at life through a lens
Amelia and Luke playing 'Who Moved My Cheese'

Made it to the island!

Paddy has sent in the first news update from Rona……

Sunday was our arrival day, and after 4 hours of hauling the gear to the hut, we started the job of getting the hut into shape. It has survived another year in one piece and it’s great to be back.

This year we have a completely new team backing me up. I asked them to describe each other as an introduction for the blog, here’s what they said.

Amelia Saxby – Amelia has excellent etiquette, and newly braided hair, which one would be proud to sport. Amelia has just finished her Master’s degree with a thesis on Rona grey seals. This is her first chance to visit Rona in person, and she will be in charge of photo identification as well as the nightly recitals of Mrs Beeton’s Household Management.

Charlotte Cairns – Charlotte is the only veggie of the team! She recently finished her Master’s at Durham University and this is her first season on Rona. She will be undertaking behavioural work with the female grey seals, when not knitting her scarf or quizmastering musical intro games!

Luke ‘Skywalker’ O’Connor – is part Jedi knight: forceful and determined. He may not have flown the Millennium Falcon, but he is indeed a fly boy and will be involved in a pilot study using a new piece of equipment to get remote photo-id pictures.

I’m Paddy Pomeroy, scientist at the Sea Mammal Research Unit and I have the pleasure of once again leading this expedition. We have a very busy schedule this year and we’ll be trying to keep you in the loop with how we get on, what seals we see from previous years and any odd things that occur. It looks like there may be a few of those………..


P, A, C, L.

2012 begins!

Welcome to the start of the 2012 North Rona grey seal fieldwork season.
The team set off from St Andrews today after a few last minute hitches.
Introductions to the new team will follow when we get set up on the island.