Whale Watching Trips
Isle of Mull
WHALE WATCHING 2002
INTER-ISLAND CRUISES WHALE SIGHTINGS UPDATE FOR
Summer came at last to the west coast of Scotland this September with several weeks of calm, sunny weather which is of course is so perfect for whale watching. Feeding levels have been really high, with massive amounts of plankton and bait fish in the water. Lunge and breach feeding was plentiful and frequent, and the sheer quantity of cetaceans in our area was excellent.
As is so common in the late season, feeding tends to be of a frenzied nature, so the whales were foraging hard, and appeared to have little time for close associations with the boat. However breaching minkes on more than one occasion made up for this.
With all this feeding about, we were fortunate in many basking shark encounters, and the numbers this September were much higher than last year.
On one of our last trips we encountered a group of six Rissos dolphins. These used to be frequent visitors in our waters, but now are a rarity.
Sadly this is the end of another season. We had a difficult start with very poor weather in May and June, but ended with probably one of the best years for sightings yet.
Our sightings for the month were as follows:
MINKE WHALES 107
BASKING SHARKS 35
RISSOS DOLPHINS 7
MINKE WHALES 337
BASKING SHARKS 47
COMMON DOLPHINS 260
RISSOS DOLPHINS 7
SUCCESS RATE 94%
Feed levels have been really high with many days showing solid masses of plankton, and on the really calm days the surface of the water has literally been fizzing with fry chased up from lower levels.
All this has resulted in some spectacular feeding frenzies from the minke whales, and we have experienced many wonderful close associations from well fed , relaxed, curious and fun seeking whales.
The best of these experiences occurred on the 26th August when we were approached by a minke that stayed with us for a full 20 minutes, logging on the surface, breathing and blowing and tail slapping, spy hopping at the bow, swimming upside down round the boat and then rising vertically underneath the inflatable at the stern, and poking it with its nose to investigate it. All this behaviour was repeated 3 or 4 times in all. This minke was definitely having FUN!
Although feeding has been really good, the number of basking sharks in our area has been lower than we would expect in August, but we feel that September will be a more productive month.
There have been a phenomenal number of porpoises seen this month, as you will see from the monthly totals.
All in all, this month has been highly successful, with a full boat most days, and many happy whale watchers enjoying their days at sea.
MINKE WHALES 112
COMMON DOLPHIN 10
There was a period at the end of the month where sightings were scarce, with feed in the water at very low levels, due probably to insufficient sunlight , but then on the 30th & 31st the whales returned in greater numbers with greatly improved feeding levels.
We have been very priviledged on more than one occasion to have minke whales associating closely with the boat, especially on the 10th July, when we had a 40 minute association with a whale circling the boat , spy hopping and belly flashing under the boat for 20 mins, and then bow riding and accompanying the boat alongside, swimming on its side to get a better view of us. Wonderful experience! The same day, we were lucky to pick up a school of 15 bottlenose dolphins just outside the harbour, and were able to follow these close in to the shore for about an hour.
On the 3rd of July we had a wonderful morning west of Coll with a big school of some 100 common dolphins, bow riding and other antics, which was greatly entertaining.
Our sightings for the month were as follows:
minke whales 64
common dolphins 100 (approx)
bottlenose dolphins 15
basking shark 2
This has been an unprecedentely bad summer so far for weather, and the past month of June has been no exception with many days cancelled for strong winds. We would like to apologise to all our disappointed customers who we were unable to take out this month whale watching. We would like to stress that we are not in the business of taking you out in any conditions regardless as to whether it is suitable or possible to see cetaceans, just to take your money. Our purpose is to provide you with a reasonably comfortable and enjoyable day out in the boat. It is meant to be a pleasure trip and not an endurance test! Having said that it is not always possible to find flat calm days this year!
Despite the many cancellations, we were successful in running 8 whale watch trips in the month and 7 island trips. We had a total of 30 sightings of minke whales, mostly at the beginning of the month. All sightings were of juveniles. Not many adults in evidence yet. Porpoise numbers were down a bit this month, mostly due to difficult sighting conditions. We logged 21 during June.
The most exciting sighting was 29th June when we encountered a very large school of common dolphins off the Cairns of Coll. A rough estimate put the number at possibly between 100 and 200. Their behaviour was very spectacular. Lots of bow riding, and syncronised breaching, with tail slapping and pectoral fin touching. There were all ages present including babies. We noticed many tooth scars on their bodies, presumably from each other, and all marks matched up ( same type of scar). A few of them appeared very "robust " and were probably pregnant females.
All in all, it was a very spectaular and exciting encounter.
Let's just keep our fingers crossed for a better July and August weather wise. We will report in due course.
Despite the poor weather we experienced during May, we have managed 24 minke whale sightings during this first month of the new season. Whales seem to have returned a little bit earlier, which may be attributable to slightly higher sea temperatures experienced this year so far. Sightings have been as usual at this time of year, mostly juveniles, but some sightings of adult minkes have been made as well. Porpoise numbers are well up this year. We have encountered large numbers of feeding porpoises on all trips, and have logged some 40 this month. We had exciting encounters on the 28th and 29th May of some 6 basking sharks. These are really early in the season, and show potential for a full and eventful season to come.
If you are interested in cetaceans and minke whales in particular, why not make enquiries about a whale watching and wildlife holiday in 2002 on the Isle of Mull. Choose the professionals with the proven track record. Choose
See this page for regularly updated sightings during the season 2002