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.
This was our boat:
and these were our safety inflation wear:
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**
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.
We also saw porpoises…
…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.
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.
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.
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.
They look deeply chilled.
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.
There were also puffins. Difficult to see, but they’re dotted around, standing on the edge of the rocks.
Less interesting than the animals, but still noteworthy – some very pretty rocks.
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.