Weather Station

Wind measurements in Cuil Bay in support of a sea lice project in Loch Linnhe

A weather station was installed by a team of scientists from Marine Scotland Science ( on Mr. Malcolm’s land in April 2011. This weather station will take wind measurements from April to October 2011 and the information on wind direction and speed will be used by the scientists to help understand how sea lice are carried around Loch Linnhe by water movements.

Sea lice are parasites which spend the first part of their lifecycle free living in sea water and the second part attached to fish where they feed on the fish mucous and skin, and where they mate and produce eggs to start the lifecycle again. Sea lice are naturally occuring parasites in the environment but can sometimes cause problems on fish farms.  They may also cause problems on wild fish when the parasite numbers are high. Sea lice in Loch Linnhe infest salmon and sea trout. 

The majority of sea lice occur in the surface layer of water.  Therefore their movement in the water is influenced greatly by the wind as they do not have the ability to swim long distances themselves. Winds around Loch Linnhe are very variable due to the high surrounding mountains. To measure wind at different land and sea locations a number of weather stations were installed around the loch, one of them on Mr. Malcolm’s land in Cuil Bay. The wind measurements will be combined with information on currents and tides, salinity and temperature of the sea water, and the behaviour and lifecycle of sea lice.  The information will be used to predict sea lice movement within the loch, and areas where they may be concentrated.

To check if the predictions are correct, water samples are collected at different sites in Loch Linnhe, predicted to have different sea lice concentrations.  Sea lice are identified in the samples and counted.  The number of lice in the samples will then be compared to the preditions. 

The project also plans to obtain information on the potential for interaction between wild fish and sea lice in Loch Linnhe. Individual salmon and sea trout are tagged and their movements followed within the loch.  Their movement patterns will be compared to predicted sea lice distribution and the level of overlap assessed.

It is hoped that understanding how sea lice are dispersed in the water within Loch Linnhe will contribute to understanding infestation patterns on farms and wild fish, and will result in information which can be used to help control infestations.  Experience gained from this project will be useful in understanding sea lice dispersal in coastal waters in other areas in Scotland.  The wind measurement from Cuil Bay is a small, but important piece contributing to this large multi-disciplinary project.

Thanks to Mr. Malcolm for letting us use his land, and thanks to all the helpful advice and comments we got during the installation from the local community. If you have any questions regarding this project or data, please feel free to get in touch with us (oceanography at marlab dot ac dot uk). For more information about Marine Scotland Science and a similar project in Loch Torridon, check out the following links:

Copyright of photos is Marine Scotland Science

Weather station in Cuil Bay as part of a larger sea lice project in Loch Linnhe

Photo of the sea lice nauplius: Sea lice at larvae stage, size ranging from 0.45 to 0.57 mm

Photo of the sea lice adult: Sea lice at adult stage, size for females 11.52 mm +/- 0.07 mm minus the egg strings

Berit Rabe


Weather Station Update
In July 2011 a team of scientists from Marine Scotland Science returned to Cuil Bay to download weather data and service the weather station. Evidence of curious cows was visible on the ropes but the weather station was still standing and had collected interesting data from mid-April to mid-July. Graphs show temperature, wind, rain, and barometric pressure during that time period. Notice the strong storm event on May 23 2011 with a peak wind speed of 66 mph. If you are interested in the data please feel free to get in touch with us. The data are now being used for the project studying sea lice dispersal in Loch Linnhe. The weather station will continue to collect useful data and help with the understanding of the ecology of sea lice within Loch Linnhe. We are grateful to Mr. Malcolm for his continuing support in facilitating collection of the data.
Berit Rabe
18 August 2011
Weather Station Update 07/12/11
“Update: The weather station has been removed over the winter but will be back in the spring for another field season.”

Weather Station Update March 2013
Our field season for this year has just begun again and we have recently set up a series of weather stations around the coast of Loch Linnhe, with one returning to Cuil Bay. Many thanks to the on-going support from Mr Malcolm.
As this project enters into its third year of field work the wind data will continue to be used in conjunction with the information on currents, tides, salinity and temperature of the sea water collected in the loch. As the majority of sea lice occur within the surface layers these physical characteristics of the surface waters can then be used to predict the movement of sea lice.
Data collected in Cuil Bay last year shows that the weather station recorded the warm temperatures that occurred in May 2012 and also the high wind speeds just before this at the start of May.
If you are at all interested in any of this data please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Weather station cuil bay