Tales from Grey Haven.
WoW! The day started out to be a really calm and sunny one, so I was sitting outside with my coffee when I first saw a minke whale swimming past the house in the Minch below the cliffs! As the morning went on, I heard some quite loud blows. So I looked through my binoculars but couldn’t see anything and well I thought that it might still be that minke from earlier hanging around. But there again - “kwooosh!” Now that made me stand up as I knew there must be something bigger than a minke around, so out to the cliffs I ran!
Little did I know that there was a humpback whale right in close beside the rocks, just slowly moving and close enough for me to see the big white pectoral fins shining through the water. Wow, that sure was quite a sight and just so mesmerizing! Happy as a clam I watched the whale turn around and make its way up north towards Tiumpan Head. There I found it again later in the day when it actually got some company from another humpback and about 3 minke whales.
I still can’t describe how special it is to see whales from land. From the very beginning of my fascination with cetaceans, I always saw whales and of course dolphins from boats, and having the latter bow-ride is quite a treat and will never grow old. However, there is just something so cool about watching them from land. I think the best way to describe my feeling is: Whenever you go out with a boat, no matter which one, the goal is to find whales or dolphins, usually in the distance, and move towards them (carefully!) so that you can have a look at them. For someone like me it’s always a matter of “hopefully I’m on a good boat, let them please not chase the poor animals.” That is a real thought I would have, at least I used to have when I was younger and sometimes chose not to go on the boats because I had a bad feeling. I’m so lucky to work on boats now in my career and so far have been able to work for really nice professional ones as well. Again seeing dolphins bow-ride or have a minke whale close to the boat and check you out is quite something! The thing with seeing them from land though is you are totally in their hands; if they decide to come closer to shore, I can guarantee that you’ll feel like you've been chosen, because it’s a matter of being at the right spot at the right time and you have no influence on their movement whatsoever. When they leave the gratitude you can feel can be quite overwhelming and makes the memory even more precious.
Now after months of not being able to go out on our Hebridean Adventure's boat though, I sure start to miss my bow-riding friends and can’t wait to get to go to the Shiants and spend some time with the puffins. Boats are great to look at those animals for sure, as long as they are used and skippered properly. So let’s all be respectful as customers and operators. It should never be about getting the closest view of the animal and hoping for a good review on social media, but all about the wellbeing of the animals and minimising our impact on their behaviour, stress and anxiety levels.
N.B. It is worth checking that any marine wildlife tour or day trip operator you choose to travel with is accredited by WiSe - the UK's national training scheme for minimising disturbance to marine wildlife, as we are. Look for the logo below on their website, boat or brochures!
I, and the rest of the Hebridean Adventures team, are looking forward to showing you the beauty of the Hebrides and it’s amazing wildlife just as soon as we are able to once more!
Make sure you scroll down to see my short video of the humpback whale below too!
Humpback whale video from the Hebrides.