200th Rockall anniversary

The first ever high-resolution map of the underwater seabed and reefs around Rockall has been compiled.

The first ever high-resolution map of the underwater seabed and reefs around Rockall has been compiled.

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Two hundred years on from the first recorded landing, researchers have compiled the first ever high-resolution map of the underwater seabed and reefs around Rockall.

On September 8, 1811, a Royal Navy officer with a small crew landed on the isolated North Atlantic islet and scaled the 19 metre high summit. From this initial claim Rockall has became Scotland’s most westerly point, 187 miles due west of the St Kilda archipelago, despite counter-claims from other countries.

Until now, no detailed maps have existed of the shallow waters surrounding Rockall – famed for its inclusion in the regular shipping weather forecasts – and the nearby Helen’s Reef. However, a research collaboration between Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), carried out this summer, has revealed a spectacular array of underwater reefs, pinnacles and ridges.

The survey took place in July aboard the Marine Research Vessel Scotia, with multibeam echo-sounder swathes of the seabed used to compile an accurate, high resolution map. Underwater video footage was also taken and specialist traps were used to assess fish distribution in the area.