The North Minch is one of Britain’s richest and most diverse marine wildlife environments. Many creatures are resident, many others are just passing through.
One third of the whale population of the North Atlantic migrates through the waters around the Hebrides each year.
The Minke Whale is commonly seen offshore in high summer, and is occasionally spotted inshore later in the season.
The Humpback Whale can occasionally be found offshore from June onwards and the Killer Whale, resident in these waters, may be seen at any time of year.
Rare sightings are possible. Early and late in the season some great creatures of the deep pass through our waters, like the Sei Whale (pictured above) and Sperm and Fin whales. And in the summer months Northern Bottlenose and Long-Finned Pilot whales have occasionally been seen offshore.
There is a good chance that you will see the diminutive Harbour Porpoise inshore and, from time to time, the Bottlenose Dolphin.
Both animals are also found offshore, as is the Common Dolphin, a regular deep-water summer visitor.
The larger Risso’s Dolphin (pictured) is occasionally seen cruising offshore waters and there is a chance of less-common sightings of Atlantic White Sided and White Beaked dolphins.
You are certain to see seals. There are several colonies of Common and Grey seals (pictured) on the shores of Loch Gairloch.
There is also a healthy population of otters and as we cruise along the Loch’s secluded shoreline you may catch a glimpse of this elusive creature.
The Basking Shark, an endangered species, is a regular summer visitor to Hebridean waters. The second largest fish in the sea, this ‘gentle giant’ can be seen both inshore and offshore.
The pelagic birds (birds of the open sea) which can be seen offshore are numerous and exceptionally diverse.
The open waters of the North Minch and the breeding grounds on offshore islands are richly rewarding for both the expert and casual observer of pelagic birds.
Great clouds of seabirds can often be seen feeding on the open sea. In the spring the Atlantic Puffin (pictured) gathers in massed rafts. Rarely-seen birds, too numerous to list, are commonplace – often just a few yards from the boat.
When our boats are close to the shore there is always a chance of seeing land animals in their natural environment.
The Red Deer (pictured), Scotland’s largest wild mammal, might be spotted on a remote hillside, a Pine Marten could scuttle along the shoreline.
A Golden Eagle may soar overhead, or the majestic White-tailed Eagle, only found in this region of Scotland, might be seen stalking the waters near the boat.