United Kingdom·July 25 - 29 2022

Sea Watch Whale and Dolphin Cruise

Fundraising Cruise for the Sea Watch Foundation during their National Whale & Dolphin Watch 2022

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SeaWatchWhaleandDolphinCruise

Overview

Timed to coincide with Sea Watch Foundation's National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2022, this 4-night cruise will take you through some of Scotland's and the Outer Hebrides' most cetacean rich waters, some of the very best in Europe in fact. Join other shore and boat-based whale and dolphin watchers around the country during this week, collecting sightings information and photos, whilst enjoying the best of Britain's marine wildlife and contributing to citizen science. We will be donating 15% of our takings from this cruise to the Sea Watch Foundation to aid in their ongoing research and conservation work.

Highlights

National Whale & Dolphin Watch

National Whale & Dolphin Watch

The Sea Watch Foundation organise this nationwide citizen science effort each year around the end of July/early August. It's a great time for spotting whales and dolphins in Scotland so we timed our fundraising cruise for them accordingly.

A mix of cetaceans possible

A mix of cetaceans possible

With the waters of the Minch now warmed by the summer sun, incoming baitfish shoals bring transitory species up into the North Minch to bolster resident populations. Minke whales, common dolphins, Risso's dolphins, and harbour porpoise are the mainstays. Other possibilities include white-beaked dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, orca, fin and humpback whales, plus other beaked whales are occasionally encountered on rare occasions.

Plenty of other wildlife too

Plenty of other wildlife too

Thanks to the amount of life around in the water from plankton to the baitfish, other sightings could include basking shark, and of course hordes of seabirds from diving gannets to fulmars, petrels and shearwaters skimming effortlessly over the waves. Common and grey seals are also commonly seen along the rocky coasts and inlets where we anchor overnight, also home to both golden and white-tailed eagles.

Schedule

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DAY 1

Broad Bay and Tiumpan Head

Depart Stornoway approximately 2.30pm and head north towards the cetacean shore-watching hotspot of Tiumpan Head at the tip of the Point Peninsula. From here we enter the area known as Broad Bay, a real magnet for whales and dolphins, including a number of rarer sightings each year. Apart from the resident minke whales, common and Risso's dolphins, and harbour porpoise, the bay plays host every year to humpback whales, fin whales and even orca sometimes too - will we be lucky? 

We will anchor in Broad Bay overnight, enjoying our first meal on board and then watching the sun go down whilst watching for any last fins or whale spouts.

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DAY 2

Down the Minch to Marvig

Leaving Broad Bay in the morning after breakfast, we will have one last look around before heading south. These waters have recently been ratified as the North East Lewis Marine Protected Area, and play host to a well-studied Risso's dolphin population in particular. These lovely animals are often seen by our guests and if we do observe them we will take lots of photographs to help researchers identify individual animals and behaviours.

Our destination is the coastal village of Marvig for our second night. Located on the east coast of the Isle of Lewis, it is a lovely quiet area with chances to spot other coastal species perhaps like seals and otters along the shorelines perhaps. White tailed eagles are also always worth looking out for as there are several territories all along this eastern coastline, with the occasional golden eagle making an appearance also.

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DAY 3

Heading for the Shiant Isles

Our third day sees us head further out into the Minch on a course for some higher areas of the seabed known as banks, where the currents become more confused and small fish tend to get concentrated making for good hunting grounds for the whales, dolphins, porpoises and the thousands of seabirds that will be breeding at the nearby Shiant Isles. We will spend time carefully searching these areas and may also spot pelagic seabirds such as shearwaters and petrels, before heading for the Shiant Isles themselves and the magnificent sights of the seabirds colonies of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags and several others who will just be coming to the end of their activity for another year. We will be able to take a walk ashore and enjoy having a look around at these ancient islands before relaxing back on board and taking in the sights and sounds of the seabird activity all around for our third night spent at anchor here.

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DAY 4

Across the Stream to Loch Sealg

There will be time for more exploration of the Shiants in the morning, both on-shore and also perhaps taking our dinghy along the coastline and maybe even through the natural sea arch if the tide and conditions are suitable! Being close to the water gives you an even more incredible eye to eye view of the puffins and their friends paddling around you.

Back on the boat we will circumnavigate the islands to show you the other seacliffs with their breeding colonies of guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes, a superb spectacle. You will also be able to spot the tell-tale signs of the former occupants of the islands with ruined bothies and field systems visible in certain places.

From here we will head across the stretch of water known as the 'Stream of the Blue Men' - worth Googling for some local history and background before you come. This can be a good feeding area once again for cetaceans and seabirds, with the turbulent currents concentrating and confusing fish like sandeels and herring and making them easy prey.

Our destination this time is Loch Shell (Sealg), a lovely dramatic sea loch where we can anchor in splendid isolation amongst the hills where eagles, seals and birds like black-throated divers are often seen. We have a favourite walk here to a beautiful waterfall which also gives great views back down the sea loch, past a ruined bothy to the MV Monadhliath at anchor awaiting your return. Watch out for wildflowers here also such as orchids which can be found along the path sometimes.

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DAY 5

Home to Stornoway

Our last morning on-board and after another hearty breakfast we will start our journey back northwards along the Lewis coastline towards Stornoway. This is still a great area for minke whales, common and Risso's dolphins and harbour porpoise so we will be keeping our eyes open all the way.

We will arrive back around midday, passing Lews Castle as we reach the harbour and leaving plenty of time for those catching the afternoon ferry back to Ullapool. The terminal is only a short 5-10 minute through town.

Tickets

Single Ticket

Single Ticket

FROM$1,490.34/pp

Sea Watch Whale and Dolphin Cruise

United Kingdom· July 25 - 29 2022· 4 nights

FROM$1490/pp