Wildlife of the Hebrides - whales and dolphins!

Last Friday's wildlife report blog by Jon Biddle


Wow what a day!!! We've enjoyed some incredible wildlife sightings the last few days..and today was also one of them..though different to each of the others before it..you just never know whats going to appear each time you go out looking!

Being fond of all types of marine (and land) wildlife, everyday we go out is a great one for me..whether it be seeing moon and lion's mane jellyfish, seabirds, seals or porpoise. But I have to say that even the incredible seabirds we see in these waters took a backseat today during both our half day adventures. 

There were some great views of busy puffins, razorbills and gullimots out searching for a meal for hungry chicks back at their breeding colonies. Gannets diving, fulmars, Manx shearwaters , terns, red throated divers and " pirate " like skuas (both artics and greats) to name but a few. But today the conditions were so great for spotting cetaceans (porpoise, dolphins and whales) and other big sea creatures, that the main focus was on our more glamorous wildlife. 

Great views of both harbour and grey seals were enjoyed today...and we even saw the white gills of a feeding basking shark on our morning trip,  as well as a spectacular "flying submarine" breach of a large creature (never to be seen again despite the mill pond conditions) of a probable basking shark...one of those split second moments that catch you unawares, except the huge white water splash left behind in it's aftermath. Our humble and discrete harbour porpoise showed well in todays conditions ..often the underdog..but a faithful symbol of the riches of these special waters. 

Even numerous great views of the often elusive minke whales (as well as a great distant spot and then observation of its spectacular breach by our guide Sarah) on both am and pm trips,  were eclipsed (for our world travelled cetacean fanatic and wildlife guide Muriel, and myself... at least) by the dolphins ..today. 

This morning the main "exceptional" sighting was of 4 Risso's dolphins with a young one.. (stealing all the glory from the slow, still present basking shark) ...which on closer careful inspection included an extremly scarce hybrid Risso's/bottlenose dolphin hybrid showing intermediate features of both species...and studied in these waters by Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC) scientist Nicola Hodgkins as a "maverick" occurance which is scientifically documented in a few parts of the world, yet not fully understood. Lets hope today's sighting will help further understand this rare phenomenon!

White-beaked dolphins then common dolphins on the pm trip also took the limelight off discrete minke sightings, juveniles of both species being in the mix. But when a robust and powerful pod of white-beaked dolphins powered in on us from the  north and  some started bow riding...I believe the show was well and truly stolen. There were moments today when it was hard to know just where to look. 

Big thanks today (not only to the wildlife and A plus conditions) but to our guests aboard from both here on the Hebrides, a local lassie who swam the Minch and to St Kilda, and guests from Germany, etc. for sharing such a day . Another day of superlatives! 

Join us soon for your Hebridean Adventure and hopefully spot some of this great wildlife with us in the Outer Hebrides. https://hebrideanadventures.co.uk