This is a post I never thought I would have to write. Earlier this year we received the devastating news that Andy Law, one of our team members, had unexpectedly passed away. This came to an absolute shock to all of us that knew him. Andy was a much liked and respected member of the SMRU team; his enthusiasm for all nature related subject was contagious and his knowledge on the local (and not so local) wildlife was absolutely admirable.

Andy helping with SMRU fieldwork in Kylerhea

Andy joined the Harbour Seal Decline project from the start, by leading the exploratory trips around Isle of Skye and part of the Argyll coast back in the summer of 2015, to choose potential study sites to get data on harbour seal population demographics. He then went onto taking responsability for collecting the photo-identification data of harbour seals occurring at the study site in Loch Dunvegan (Isle of Skye), and then patiently and methodically processing the thousands of photographs collected. But Andy was known to the SMRU team way before that, as he had been collaborating with various projects occurring in Kylerhea waters in the past, right on his door step.

A mum-pup harbour seal pair from Loch Dunvegan. Photograph by Andy Law

Andy’s ability to recognize the different seals frequently seen in Loch Dunvegan was something else. He literally knew by eye a very large proportion of the around 500 catalogued seals in that area… Not only that, but he also managed to nickname most of them based on what the pelage pattern looked like! Andy was a very talented wildlife and landscape photographer, which was reflected in the photographs taken for the project. Despite being busy taking pictures as the boat would move fairly quickly past the hauled out seals, Andy would still find the time to chat to those lucky ones happening to be in the same wee boat with him, answering all the seal or other wildlife questions they had.

Harbour seal pup from Loch Dunvegan. Photograph by Andy Law
Curious harbour seal in the water. Photograph by Andy Law

Andy is and will be truly missed by all of us that were lucky enough to cross paths with him. Our thoughts are with Andy’s wife Debbie and his kids, Hamish, Isabelle and Madeleine.

Post written by Monica.



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