Last Sunday was Tobermory Lifeboat day and the weather couldn't have been more perfect for it; clear skies, warm sunshine and light winds. Monday dawned much the same in terms of winds, but slightly more damp, however all on board were looking forward to the trip ahead. We went out to the Seal colony and then up to the Sea Eagle nest. We saw one of the adults in the bay itself and as we went round to the point one of the chicks was sat on the big rock stack. We were sitting there watching that when one of the passengers said ‘there's something over there,’ we had a look and it was a Basking Shark, it was a fairly small individual but a great start to the trip, as we were sitting there still with the Shark and Eagle visible a group of Harbour Porpoise appeared, so that was 3 of the big 5 within a short time of leaving Tobermory.
After this fantastic start we headed further offshore, and then came a call of there's something big over there. I had a look and saw a small Minke Whale surface a few hundred metres off. We saw it surface a few times and then it went for a deep dive and we lost it. However by then we had received a shout from a nearby fishing boat to say he had seen lots of Sharks so we headed over and had some really close views. We then picked up the whale again and watched as it moved up and down the tideline foraging. It was whilst we were all enjoying a cup of tea that it decided it wanted to have a closer look at us and surfaced twice, once either side of the boat at less than 20 metres, fantastic.
The trips since then have varied, Tuesday morning dawned sunny, but un-forecasted strong winds restricted our trip to the more sheltered inshore waters, however all had a good trip and we managed to have a fantastic view of a family of Harbour Porpoise foraging, as well as the Sea Eagles, a range of seabirds and the seals, including lots of young pups.
By the second trip on Tuesday afternoon the weather had improved so we headed further out and this time we had some great close views of Basking Sharks and the Sharks have been seen on every trip since, including some particularly large individuals. However as I write this I am sitting in the office watching the rain steadily fall and the bay getting buffeted by strong winds.
Unfortunately the Hebrides tend to get their best weather in May and June, with July and August being a lot less settled, this unfortunately means that those who visit during the typical summer months are often disappointed, but for those of you looking to visit the island all I would recommend it to expect the unexpected, as Crowded House sang, we often encounter 4 seasons in one day!