Today's blog by Sarah.
Last week here at Easdale we had a rare and wonderful moment when bottlenose dolphins came to play in the sound, much to the excitement of the new crew. As if by prior arrangement they were there in time for Roy’s morning Corryvreckan Wildlife Tour, Carolyn was also on board, whose reputation as a cetacean repellent can no longer be held against her, whilst Sarah and Claire were in the shop. The call came over the radio and permission was given to shut up shop and view the action from the harbour, so after a frantic scramble to find the keys, which turned out to be in Carolyn’s trouser pocket, Team Seafari were either on the jetty or on the boat to enjoy these fantastic animals doing their thing.
The Easdale ferrymen were also getting first class seats to the performance as they sailed to and fro with delighted passengers on board, and kayakers from Sea Kayak Scotland had the enviable experience of being within touching distance. If the crew had been on a day off they would have been throwing themselves into the water, wetsuit or not.
There were 5 or 6 dolphins, apparently in the sound for the mere enjoyment of playing amongst the boats, ‘bow riding’ in the slipstream and following the ferry right in to Easdale Harbour at one point. They must have seemed trained to our Seafari customers, as they were there again for Sarah’s afternoon trip, and made another boatload of people very happy. Claire, on the other hand, was still in the office feeling rather put out, particularly as everyone was very vocal about how wonderful it had all been. Luckily for Claire, the pod stuck around for a few days and were seen off the west coast of Lunga whilst Claire was crewing the tours !
Bottlenose dolphins are widely distributed around the world; they can be found in cold temperate waters to tropical seas, but Scottish ones are the largest and fattest of them all which will come as no surprise to those of you who have swum in our brisk waters. The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust have identified roughly 28 individuals in this group, but as they are nomadic and can be found travelling from Islay to the North of Mull, it is difficult to judge the pod size exactly. Individuals can be identified by scars and notches, particularly on the dorsal fin. One dolphin in this pod was seen last June with severe propeller damage to the tail, and last week it was seen again by Claire and Steve, fully healed but with slightly hindered mobility – we reported the sighting to HWDT who are trying to get more information on this animal.