Situated as they are in the North Atlantic, at the western edge of Europe, the Hebrides with their long coastline, allow the watcher an unrivalled seascape in which to search for marine wildlife. From Seals to Whales, the Hebrides attract a variety of marine mammals, not forgetting the second largest fish that swims the world’s oceans, the Basking Shark.
The productive seas off Scotland's West coast have long been known as a favourite haunt of marine wildlife and a range of Dolphins and Whales can be seen here. Like their avian counterparts the changing seasons bring with them different visitors. Our spring watch programme sees us looking out for the several species of Dolphin and Porpoise which can frequently be seen. These include the Common, Atlantic Whiteside and White Beaked Dolphin, as well as the Common Porpoise. Of particular interest is the Grey Grampus, or Risso's Dolphin, a spectacular animal which grows up to 4 metres long. As Summer advances and calmer sea conditions prevail, Dolphins can be found hunting pelagic fish often close to shore.
Summer also sees the return of the mighty Basking Shark once hunted from the Hebrides for the oil its liver produces, they now enjoy full protection appearing annually to feed. They can be seen with their nose, fin and tail breaching the surface as they feed open mouthed on Krill, a sight to be long remembered as they cruise effortlessly often very close to the shore.
Our Autumn programme allows us to see new species including some Whales. In addition to Minke Whales, Long Finned Pilot Whales can also be found, their greater size enables them to be seen in a wider range of sea conditions. Out from the Atlantic side of the islands major oceanic Whale species are regularly recorded and from time to time we are visited by a group of Orca's who pursue the migrating Salmon as the fish return to the rivers of their birth to spawn.
Hebrides Wildwatch are able to offer land based trips to look for Cetacean's and our guides are experienced in locating and identifying the local species. The animals are most easily spotted from high vantage points, which require a certain level of fitness as some walking is necessary, though we are also pleased to be able to offer some opportunities which cater for those with limited mobility. Sea Trips can also be arranged upon request.