14) Whale Watching

I really like marine life. There’s something so sinuous and elegant about sea creatures, and I love watching them move in  water. Just utterly serene.

I’m in Scotland at the moment for a long bank holiday weekend; my Dad lives in Aberdeen, but has just got a house in Skye. I flew in on Thursday, spent the night in Aberdeen then my Dad and I drove over to Skye. On the way, we stopped off at Gairloch to go whale watching. We used the Hebridean Whale Cruises tour, and I cannot recommend them enough.

It was a perfect day.

IMG_6273

IMG_6267

This was our boat:

P1040763

and these were our safety inflation wear:

IMG_6391

IMG_6277

Needless to say, looking sharp.

We zoomed away amidst blue skies and green islands, stopping after about ten minutes, where we caught our first sign of a whale.

**All photo credit to my Dad**

P1040636

These are Minke whales. As whales go, they’re pretty small – only 10 meters in length. They’re common around Scotland, particularly the northern regions. They come up to breathe, taking a few breathes (between shallow dives) before diving back down again for about 20 minutes.

I was watching with binoculars; it was absolutely extraordinary seeing the whale gracefully arc from the water. When it came up, you could sometimes hear the sound of the blow-hole releasing air. There was a hushed atmoshpere on the boat; whilst the whale was diving, everyone held their breath awaiting its ascent. It was quite an incredible experience.

P1040652

P1040653

P1040663

We also saw porpoises…

P1040664

P1040665

…and this deeply friendly group of dolphins that came right up to the rib and started swimming along next to us. They were so close.

P1040678

P1040683

P1040688

P1040697

P1040702

IMG_6299

I couldn’t believe how close the dolphins came. They were close enough to touch.

After playing with the dolphins, we came to a constellation of land masses, which were home to more birds than I’ve ever seen in one place, and – seals.

IMG_6324

P1040709

P1040714

They were mainly in the water, just bobbing their heads up to look at us. They were definitely aware that we were there – they followed our progress with their eyes – but they didn’t seem alarmed or particularly worried.

There was a white seal pup on the rocks.

P1040715

P1040716

P1040717

So adorable.

Overwhelmingly though, these islands were home to a phenomenal number of birds. I’ve never seen so many in one place before; they were flying, perched on rocks & just hanging out in the water, like this lot.

P1040722

They look deeply chilled.

IMG_6368

P1040725

The sound that they all made when they took off was surprisingly loud; there were so many of them, and they all moved at once – the sound of their wings slapping the surface of the water was intense.

P1040724

P1040761

There were also puffins. Difficult to see, but they’re dotted around, standing on the edge of the rocks.

P1040741

Less interesting than the animals, but still noteworthy – some very pretty rocks.

P1040705

P1040708

P1040726

P1040728

P1040733

P1040737

P1040739

P1040742

P1040744

P1040746

P1040747

P1040748

P1040750

P1040753

P1040756

The whales that we saw were small and far away, but it was an undiminished joy to see them. The other marine life was just a lovely bonus. A wonderful trip.

P1040758

P1040757

 

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s