How it all began ...
For over 25 years Sea Life Surveys have been successfully operating specialist wildlife trips on the west coast of Scotland in the fascinating and exciting waters around Mull, Coll, Muck Eigg, Rum and the Treshnish Isles. The rugged isles and clean seas provide the perfect environment for the wildlife to flourish and the sea area supports a huge abundance of breeding birds, seals, otters, whales, porpoises and dolphins to name a few. However, it was the mysterious minke whale which first gripped naturalist Richard Fairbairns imagination and brought Sea Life Surveys to where it is today.
It was a close encounter with this magnificent animal that inspired him, in 1982, to take the first tentative steps towards investigating the little-researched cetaceans of the Inner Hebrides. In order to finance and practically carry out the surveys it was decided to invite people from all works of life to come and enjoy this very special marine environment while knowing that they were actively contributing to our understanding of it. Although 26 of the 83 known species of cetacean occur in British waters, Richard Fairbairns discovered that very little research had been carried out on them. The dearth of information on cetaceans in Scottish waters prompted him to set up a project to investigate them. With advice from whale biologists Vassili Papastavrou and Jonathan Gordon, he created the research organisation, Mull Cetacean Project, (MCP).
The aims of the project were to investigate the cetacean populations over an area of 300 square miles to the north and west of Mull using only benign methods to study their behaviour (particularly that of the minke whale) and their place in the ecosystem of the area. In addition, to involve and educate the general public and to disseminate the information produced by the scientific research. Funds for this work were to be raised by the introduction of commercial whale watching holidays and day trips run by Sea Life Surveys. Data collection was to be carried out from the whale watching vessel by Richard, a crew of student volunteers and paying members of the public under supervision.
At the beginning of 1992 The Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust (HWDT) was created. This is now a thriving establishment and has taken over much of the education and conservation activities of the Mull Cetacean Project. The research activities of Sea Life Surveys however continues to focus on the minke whale and cetaceans in the area which compliments further studies by HWDT.
Brennen & James, Richard's sons have now taken over Sea Life Surveys and continue to run whale watching trips and package holidays. The success of Sea Life Surveys over the years since its inception was highlighted in October 1994 when Sea Life Surveys won the Scottish Tourist Board's Thistle Award for excellence in the field of Tourism and the Environment and in February 1995 the British Airways' Tourism for Tomorrow Award. During 2003 James was the Argyll 'Shell Livewire' for Ecocruz. After a rigorous inspection we have been awarded GOLD Green Business Award in 2010* by the Visit Scotland Green Tourism Scheme. which inspects businesses seen to be making an effort to reduce their environmental impact covering areas like energy efficiency, waste minimisation and recycling, use of local produce, and support of public transport.
*In 2010 Sea Life Surveys was awarded the Gold Green Business Award. Click here to find out how Sea Life Surveys have gone green >>
What people are saying about us:
"It was the best wildlife trip on a boat I have had in Great Britain!" - Malcolm Stannary, 14 July 2011
"Sea Life Surveys was my sole reason for travelling to Mull and Tobermory. Having been a participant in many expeditions and wildlife excursions over the years, I can undoubtedly say that Sea Life Surveys stands out head and shoulders above the rest. The professionalism, friendliness, knowledge and safety aspect of all staff members is first class. You should feel proud in the excellent service you provide. I shall certainly be recommending you to friends, colleagues and family. I hope to return here in the future to experience more of this beautiful area and amazing wildlife. Well done to all concerned and a huge ‘Thank-you’ for your help and hospitality" - Andy Currie
"Was afraid the trip might be 'dumbed' down for the kids. But it wasn’t. The most non-touristy professionally run trip I have been on!!" - Michael Rowan, Bucks
"Really enjoyable with info from guides who obviously are interested in the work" - Chris Moore, Glasgow
"Thanks for a fab week, I'm so lucky to have such lovely people to spend time with while im here on Mull" - Andy Tait
"Many thanks for a nice day - sadly no whales - but all the crew where lovely and full of information" - Paul & Gerry
"Thanks for another fab trip out ... back up in September and might just treat myself again! Best wishes" - Liz Hallom
"Our trip was wonderful, both of us felt very relaxed throughout the trip. The crew were so friendly & helpful. What an incredible experience, thank you." - Mr & Mrs Rogers
"The trip was fantastic. I was amazed that you could see whales & dolphins so close to home. We felt extremly relaxed from the minute we stepped aboard, well done guys, see you next year!" - MacDonald family
"Just a little note to say that we had such a good time. The company was excellent and we were so thoughtfully cared for by James, Lewis and Cindy, thankyou all." - Cathy Findlay and Ian McMillan
"Thouroughly enjoyed it!" - Chris Quirt
"Excellent afternoon" - S & C Bailey
"Very enjoyable, well done & thanks" - Kate Shawyer