Jess' penultimate month in the Hebrides has been a busy one! Find out whats she's been up to in her blog below.
Even if there isn’t a whale or dolphin to be found, the journeys through the Hebrides on CalMac Ferries are always a joy as the landscape is spectacular. I have had the chance to sail past and admire parts of Scotland that many people dream of going to, and viewing them from the sea gives you an excellent view and sense of scale when looking at the cliffs, mountains, beaches, and waterfalls.
What with foreign travel on pause due to the C word (Covid, not Christmas) Scotland has seen one of its busiest years for visitor numbers. Holiday lets and hotels have been booked up way into the winter months and the ferries have been full with tourists travelling to experience the unique and rugged scenery in the highlands and islands, and many of them are first time visitors.
I have just reached the end of my penultimate month of surveying in the Hebrides and I thought this would be a great time to share some of the spectacular scenery that I have been lucky enough to sail past and through. Scotland has over 790 islands to explore and I certainly haven’t learnt all their names and but I have had a chance to learn about and experience some of these islands in more depth and there’s no denying that Scotland has certainly captured the attention and hearts of many more people this year, including mine.
As well as amazing scenery, it has also been a great month for meeting enthusiastic and interesting passengers. This month I was joined by TV presenter Alex Outhwaite on board the MV Hebrides sailing from Skye to North Uist. Alex was making a film about travelling via ferry and was enjoying the west coast having visited Mull too where she spotted some common dolphins and inquisitive seals.
Here are two recent Marine Biology and Zoology graduates from Bangor University who were very happy to see common dolphins feeding on a school of fish with a huge number of gannets. They said the sightings made their ferry crossing unforgettable and were excited to get to their holiday on Tiree.
This month I also had my first face to face workshop with a school group since before the pandemic hit. I hadn’t realised I much I missed teaching and helping children to learn more about their local wildlife. The children were fascinated by the model skulls I brought along to their community hall and were amazed to learn about the evolution and adaptions of whales and dolphins. I was also incredibly impressed by how much the children already knew about marine life.
It has been a very busy month and I am looking forward to seeing what the last few weeks of the survey season brings me. We have had a good number of dolphin sightings in September but sadly the minke whales haven’t been showing off as much as they were earlier in the year. Maybe they are just making room for all the breaching killer whales and humpback whales we will see in October….