I journeyed out to the Bass Rock last Friday to get an up-close and personal look at the situation and learn more about the birds and how the disease could affect them.

On a trip organised by the Scottish Seabird Centre, I boarded a catamaran with a group of tourists and ventured out to the volcanic islands off the North Berwick shoreline.

We first visited the Lamb and Craigleith, not islands associated with gannets, but it was distressing to see two of the seabirds lying dead upon the rocks.

Naturally, I was worried that by the time we reached the Bass Rock, the number of dead gannets visible from the boat would be significantly higher.

As we approached, the gannets swarmed above our heads; eventually reaching touching distance of the rock, it appeared that the colony was healthy, with our guide Louise giving an in-depth analysis of the birds’ way of life.

We circled the imposing rock face in its entirety, but only about 10 deceased birds were visible on the Bass itself.

As I left the boat and headed back home, I passed the Watcher, and beneath him on the town’s famous East Beach, two countryside rangers in hazmat suits collecting a dead gannet whose final resting place was directly in front of the Seabird Centre.

It was a potent image and a reminder of the impact the disease can have on the county’s iconic wildlife.