Skye & Avoch: Otters & Dolphins

On our last morning in Skye, we rose early to hunt out otters. Kylerhea is one of the best places in Britain to spot otters and other marine life – and it was a perfect stopping point on our way to Aberdeen.

There was a short walk to get to the otter hide, and it was a beautiful morning.

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This is the otter hide – it was incredibly pleasant; a large cabin with windows all along the back wall, where you could use binoculars to watch the marine life in the Kyle Rhea.

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We stayed for half an hour. We could have easily stayed longer (is there anything more calming than watching rivers flow?), but as ever – we had a full itinerary.

I didn’t see anything for the first fifteen minutes. There were a few birds, but other than that I didn’t see any life. Halfway in though, my Dad pointed out this:

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From a static photo, it looks exactly like a rock – but I promise that it was moving. Definitely animal, probably otter, possibly seal.

This one is closer in, you can kind of make out the head and the ripple in the water behind…

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… and here is part of its body, as it raises itself onto rocks.

Not the best sightings ever, but – after waiting so patiently, it was amazing to see life.

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After the otter sighting, we saw three animals. All together. At once. It was so exhilarating, I nearly dropped my binoculars.

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We think these are seals, but really aren’t too sure.

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Still very cool. There’s something so remarkable about seeing animals in their natural habitat – whether sailing out to see them, or spotting them from shore. I’m a big supporter of aquariums and all the conservation & education work they do, but it’s an undeniably different experience from seeing them in the wild. As humans, we’re bred to the idea that we indisputably own the planet – and perhaps we do – but it’s nice to be reminded of all the creatures that we share it with.

Desolate at leaving Skye, we stopped at Avoch for another boat journey. This time: to see dolphins.

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Of course, the bar was set very high – just a few days before in Gairloch, we’d had dolphins swimming right next to the boat. Whilst this wasn’t quite as close, we had a number of excellent sightings.

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There were three of them swimming together; at some points you could see their fins in tandem.

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These are colder waters than Gairloch, and the dolphins are darker, larger – more insulating blubber.

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It was a great excursion, but sadly the last of this little holiday. I had – such a lovely time. I’ve been on more boats in four days than I’ve been on in the last four years, and seen just so many extraordinary creatures. There’s something definitely magical about Skye, and I’m already looking forward to my return in August. Until then.

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