Humpbacks in the Hebrides
This could of been one of our most memorable days ever! We'd had a number of humpback sightings since we arrived for the season and even saw them feeding offshore from our staff house! However despite some locals having an incredible sightings in windy weather from their small boats, we had not came across them. We had hoped (prayed!) that with them hanging around the area we would eventually bump into them!
On one of our week tours, Shane decided to have a look in the area they had been sighted in whilst looking for basking sharks, it was calm and sunny with the conditions being perfect. We could spot movement on the water from a long way away and Shane had a quiet feeling about it. Not saying anything to start with, he spotted some blows in the far distance offshore. Not wanting to get everyone excited then disappointed, he pointed Cearban Mhor's bows towards the action and slowly moved towards it. The closer they got, the surer he was it was humpbacks! Sharing the news with the passengers, the shrieking and hooting from the rear deck was infectious! These are the moment that make all the hassle, graft and low points worth it. Especially with everything 2020 has thrown at us!
What we found was a MASSIVE bait ball of sand eels with common dolphins, minke whales and three humpback whales feeding! We spent the next six hours with the the whales, watching them lunge feed time after time after time. Apart from another boat that joined us for a short while we had the whole spectacle to ourselves! We are incredibly privileged to have witnessed this, given we have never seen anything like this in all our years of operating. Of course we see this on our tours in Norway with the whales, but to see this in Scotland is incredibly rare!
We did see three basking sharks in the middle of the action too and it was very funny how we all kinda forgot about the sharks (awwwww) when that's what we had been looking for all along! One of the other really cool things was the amount of minke whales there. The numbers were easily into double figures as they seemed to be surfacing everywhere and we were noting down 6-8 at any one time with numerous others in the distance. They were also lunge feeding which we don't see often at all and very torpedo like!
Luckily Shane had the drone with him and captured this incredible footage that you can see below! Check out the lunge feeding humpbacks and you can see how they use their large pectoral fins to corral the fish. Then at the end some of the close minke encounters as they danced around the boat is just as good! We've got a lot of footage to share and we'll post up more when we're not so busy with the basking shark season!
This was an encounter of a lifetime and one we'll all remember for the rest of our lives!! Please note - this is unlikely (as much as we would love it to) happen again! There is always a chance of course, and for folk that come on our tours then although the magic happens when you are very lucky. There was 8 passengers on board with us and that day they won the wildlife lottery!