Saoirse is back in business!

Blog post by Isabella Clegg

We have some very good news to share with you – the Saoirse is well and truly back in business!

Earlier this year, Saoirse suffered some mechanical problems and spent her winter hauled out in the dockyard in Puerto Natales. Unfortunately this caused a few delays to our trip to Golfo Tres Montes, which was originally planned for May 2018, then postponed to October 2018, and then finally rearranged for November 2018. We are incredibly grateful for the continued patience and support of the Blue Marine Foundation, the trip’s principal funder, through this testing time!

Thanks to the tireless work of Greg and Keri to get the Saoirse back on top form, we are happy to report that we are now underway and in full swing of data collection in Golfo Tres Montes, currently anchored at Caleta Buena for a couple of days.

The purpose of this trip is to complete an overview of all the marine life living in Golfo Tres Montes, focussing on the cetaceans’ behaviour, the biodiversity in the area, and looking at this from an innovative new angle using drones. Our objective is to fill in the pieces to the puzzle that we started building years ago, using the data from our repeated expeditions up here each year. Integrating and evaluating this huge collection of multi-disciplinary data will help us move to the next stage of the process: putting forward the evidence to the government and propose this region as a Marine Protected Area.

On board we have Greg and Keri of course, expertly guiding us through the gulfs, straights and narrows of this complex area. Annika is a German film-maker and incredible cook, and is using her experience of sailing on the Saoirse 4 years ago to help crew the trip. We are all already a few pounds heavier, and many degrees happier, from her wonderful cooking!

Dr Isabella Clegg is a marine mammal scientist, with a speciality in cetacean behaviour. She leads the “on-effort” watches for cetaceans, and measures the frequency and durations of each behaviour of the cetaceans we see, so that we can understand how the animals are using this area- are they feeding, breeding, or just passing through?

Will Darwin is a drone pilot, and is flying our two new drones donated by the wonderful Blue Marine Foundation. Will is also the resident techie and has been essential in resolving all problems with computers, Wifi, hydrophones, and cameras!

So we are a strong team of 5 accompanied of course by Pichi the dolphin dog, who is keeping our spirits up during the day and warming our feet under the table in the evenings.

We will bring you an update very soon about the first cetaceans we see and the data we manage to collect!