Marine-life & wildlife
The seas around the Northwest Highlands and Islands are teeming with life, and our cruises frequently bring us as close to the local sea-life as you can hope for. The abundance of fish attracts all kinds of animals to the area. The seas around the area begin to fill with a variety of fish in the spring, too numerous to list here, but perhaps the most important are mackerel, sand eels, and sprats, which appear to throng the bays on warm summer evenings.
Indeed, we begin to see large Bottle-nosed Dolphins in the waters around the Small Isles beginning in April, but as we move into May and the start of the summer season, Common Dolphins visit the area, seeming to delight in coursing and skipping alongside the local boats. The Porpoise, on the other hand, is much more timid and shy, but it spends the entire year around the islands, and large pods of them can be seen roaming from time to time further out into the deeper waters. It is not uncommon to see Minke Whales around the islands during this time of year; in particular, they can be found feeding in the waters off Muck, thought to be drawn there by a combination of the tides around Ardnamurchan and the abundance of food in that area. During the hot summer months, another deep-sea colossus arrives in the area: basking sharks. Despite the fact that these creatures are gentle and harmless filter-feeders, their sheer size can be frightening at first!
We’ve recently seen much larger species of jellyfish floating into the area. Aside from the little purple-ringed moon jellyfish, there are also the compass jellyfish, the ethereal-looking dustbin jellyfish, and the lion’s mane jellyfish, which is the world’s third-longest recorded animal! Similarly, on recent trips, we have seen the white-tailed sea eagle, which was reintroduced into the wild around 25 years ago from the island of Rum, after becoming extinct in Scotland in the early 1920s. Sightings of creatures such as the strange-looking Sunfish, Killer Whales, and Humpback Whales are much more rare.