So summer is officially over, and looking back, we have had a great summer of weather on the farm.  So many sunny days, calm weather and it’s a real pleasure to work on a mussel farm when the conditions are so good.

Wildlife Encounters:
We have had an amazing summer of wildlife too.  The video attached below shows some pilot whales which we saw on the westside of Shetland near Papa Stour last weekend and there have been many sightings of Orcas too all around the islands in the past few months.  Some pods seem to make it part of their summer feeding patterns to target seals and seabirds near to the coast line.  While this is bad for these animals it gives us a great chance to see these interactions up close.

Our boat crews often see these incredible creatures, and sometimes hardly think to mention it, but one particular visitor to one of our sites really amazed me when six months after the encounter one of our skippers Lewis casually showed me the other footage from his phone (shown here) which shows two sperm whales having a good look at our mussel lines back in November 2015.  I asked Lewis – how come you never showed me this?!? To which he said – “just never thought to say……”

Amazing shots and it really makes you feel part of nature when we are growing out seafood on our sites with these amazing animals in such close contact with us on a daily basis.

Spat Settlement:
We are now feeling much more autumnal up here and so it’s a time of year when you check on the results of the baby mussel (spat) collection.  I can happily report we have had some success this year.  Aith Voe (pic below), a new site to us, has great settlement along with Bixter and Browland.  I also checked on the 3000 droppers at Dury Voe (another new site to us) recently and have to say I could not see one single shell on any of those net strips.  It is not too late yet but I fear we may have a dud input there.

If by January we don’t see any later settlements, we will have to remove each net strip by hand and clean them up to try again next year.  We may need to change this site to a grower site and accept we cannot collect spat at this location, which is a pity as we are always keen to add new spat sources to our list if possible.

The hatchery for mussel spat is moving forward and we have had some encouraging trials of getting the mussels to spawn.  The pilot equipment will be running in the coming weeks and we are really excited to see how that will work.  There will be more learning here to do and again there is only one way to find out new things - and that is to keep on trying.