September seabirds and cetaceans!
Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Yesterday's full day trip began with dazzling blue skies and a slight swell on the surface as we left Stornoway harbour. As Autumn rolls around in the Hebrides, the sun is staying lower in the sky long into the morning, which can make our spotting efforts that bit trickier - the glare from the water hinders our scanning efforts as we try to find our cetaceans. As we cruised the east coast of Lewis, we noted the changes in the island that is signalling Autumn's arrival - the pink thrift has long gone, and the bracken on the hills and heaths is turning fiery.
Our voyage south to the Shiant Isles afforded us some excellent views of the elegant gannets that fish our waters - flying overhead, floating on the surface, and diving not far from the boat, we were able to see these large seabirds in all their glory. The floating individuals were close enough to observe their beautiful plumage highlighted with yellow, and the diving birds showcased their incredible skill as they plunged towards the surface. Gannets can reach speeds of 60mph when they hit the water, reaching depths of up to 25 metres in search of fish.
As we approached the Enchanted Isles, we were happy to spot a group of harbour porpoise who seemed to be involved in hunting activities. As we cruised around the western face of Eilean Garbh, our lead guide Jonathan spotted a pod of short-beaked dolphins displaying similar behaviour - we lingered for a short time to observe them, then continued circumnavigating the archipelago.
Cruising north back to Stornoway, not far from Kebock Head, we were delighted to spot another pod of short-beaked dolphins approaching our vessel at speed. The pod quickly caught up to us and commenced some very energetic bow riding. The animals stayed with us for some twenty minutes, with one individual in particular being very excited to see us - he fully leapt out of the water alongside us 3-4 times, allowing us great views of his markings.
After their fun, the pod peeled off due south and we continued on our voyage home. Another great adventure aboard the MV Monadhliath! We do hope you will come join us on board soon.