For the safety of our volunteers, staff and island community, we have taken the incredibly difficult decision to cancel all volunteer Research Expeditions scheduled for the 2020 summer field season.
We’ve been working through the tourism and hospitality sector reopening guidance published by the Scottish Government, and sector specific guidance produced by others including Sail Scotland, discussing what it means for us here at HWDT and assessing the risk associated with all our activities.
Following this review we have taken the incredibly difficult decision to cancel all remaining summer Research Expeditions, due to run until October 2020 inclusive.
Volunteers are what make our trips so special, and we are incredibly disappointed we won’t be able to welcome any volunteers on board Silurian this year.
The decision is based on whether we could provide a safe environment relative to Covid-19 on board Silurian. Considering the current guidance and expected continued restrictions we have decided we cannot do so at this time. The health and well-being of our volunteers, staff and communities in which we live and work are our top priority.
The complete dearth of data collected from on board Silurian so far during this summer field season is devastating. 2020 will be marked as the only period since 2003 where data on whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks in the Hebrides has not been gathered by volunteers on board Silurian during the summer months.
Whilst we cannot operate as usual, and are unable to welcome volunteers on board or run our scheduled Research Expeditions this summer, we are exploring alternative options to salvage some of the vital species monitoring we undertake on board this year.
An announcement will follow regarding our plans for acoustic monitoring fieldwork this summer and a fundraising appeal to enable us to deliver this fieldwork.
2020 has thrown up some significant challenges for our charity and we need your support more than ever to continue to deliver our programme of community based research and education. I’d like to thank you for bearing with us as we work through these changes, we are grateful for your continued support and understanding.
We recognise that for many people this year is going to be very difficult. However, if you feel that you can support us at this time, we would urge you to please consider booking a research expedition in 2021, become a member, adopt a minke whale or killer whale, or alternatively make a donation towards our conservation work.