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June wildlife sightings from Nick Davies and other news from Hebridean Whale Cruises.

Closer To The Sea

29 June 2008

This week we've added a new facility at Gairloch Harbour to make life a little easier for our passengers.

It's a new changing room at the foot of the pier so that passengers on Orca 1 will have more space to put on their flotation suits. And they will be only a few yards from the pontoon where our boats are moored.

At the moment it's a temporary cabin – we're still awaiting final approval from the planning authorities to put up a permanent booking office and changing room. Hopefully, that won't take too long, and in the meantime our passengers will be closer to our boats and to the sea.

The annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch, organised by the Sea Watch Foundation, has come around again and we've had the usual bad weather.

We did manage to get out most days with lots of Common Dolphins, Minke Whales and porpoises recorded and reported to Sea Watch.

I haven't seen White-beaked Dolphins for a while so they may have moved off north although we did see them at this time last year and we used to get a run of them in August as well.

We have 50-plus pairs of Common Terns now after some late arrivals – even saw a pair mating yesterday. Such late breeding is usually doomed to fail as the majority of terns will have fledged, which leaves the few late breeders open to predation.

Mystery Big Whale

18 June 2008

Lots more Common Dolphins and Minkes recently, but today was one of those 'Big Whale' days. Only trouble was we saw it only once as the sea was quite bumpy.

I don't like to give a definite ID to this one but the indications are that it may have been a Sei Whale. These are the reasons:

It had a large visible blow in conjunction with the emergence of a large and erect dorsal fin. It was bigger than a Minke and when you are lucky enough to see a visible blow from a Minke it's quite weak. The other times you see a visible blow from a Minke is when it is lunge feeding, and this whale certainly wasn't behaving like that.

It was definitely a rorqual (folds or grooves of skin running from beneath its mouth) and the dark metallic coloration of the animal also indicates Sei.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't a Fin Whale as the dorsal appeared at the same time as the blow but, as I said before, I'm not going to call it anything but an unidentified large whale.

Best Minke Day This Year

2 June 2008

Today has seen the best Minke total so far this year, with Orca 1 encountering nine animals during two cruises (including one tiny calf) and James clocking up a further two sightings from the Kerry so far today, and he's back out there as I write …

It's Out There Somewhere

1 June 2008

Got a call from a fisherman at 9.25 a.m. – Killer Whale off Red Point. I thought 'brilliant' – we had a trip at 10.00 a.m. Which way was it heading? South! 'Thanks, see ya soon'. So I told the late(ish) passengers to put on their suits on the boat.

Off we went feeling reasonably confident, knowing that, while the Orca could have gone into Torridon or over to the Sound of Raasay, more usually these whales head straight south.

I decided that if we couldn't find it by the time we got to Applecross then it must have deviated. Well, we didn't find it – but we found Minkes, Common Dolphins and porpoises so nobody was that upset at missing the Orca (except me).

On the afternoon cruise we got a quadruple – White-beaked and Common Dolphins, multiple Minkes and porpoises. Glad we had a couple of good trips as an unexpected passenger was on board – one of the Sea Watch Foundation coordinators. We had a right old chat about what we'd both done and where we'd been. I would like his job!

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